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Full text of "Omni Magazine (October 1992)"

EXCLUSIVE: HOW TO BUILD A REAL ALIEN! 



SkSIHIi 







COSMIC 
EGG^- 

SCIENCE 

TAKES OFFT 

CONTROVE 
IN COSMOLOGY 



CARL SAGAN 
& ANN DRUYAN 

ON THE ORIGINS OF THE 
SOLAR SYSTEM 

--.,. FIELD GUIDE TO 
EXTRATERRESTRIALS 




',3.95 OCT. 1992 




EDITOR IN CHIEF 8, DESIGN DIRECTOR: BOB GUCCIONE 

PRESIDENT & C.O.O.: KATHY KEETON 

EDITOR: KEITH FERRELL 

GRAPHICS DIRECTOR- I-IA'-JK DEVINO 

MANAGING EDITOR: CAROLINE DARK 

SENIOR ARI jIBIXTOR. DWAYNE FLINCHUM 



DEPARTMENTS 



First Word 

By Frank Drake 
Calling E.I 




Political Science 

By Tom Dworetzky 

18 

Funds 

By Linda Marsa 

33 

Wheels 

By Melanie Menagh 

25 

Mind 

By Kathleen McAuliffe 

38 

Electronic Universe 

By Gregg Keizer 

32 

Tools 

By Keith Ferrell 

35 

Style 

By Peter Callahan 

37 

Continuum 

128 

Games 

By Scot Morris 




our fourteenth birth- '■:":/ day, we celebrate the 
cosmos and the won-"-' ders it contains. 
John Berkey's cover suggests that it harbors other 

life, aliens of the sort that participants 
in a fascinating conference create each year {Addi- 
tional art and photo credits, page 71) 



On Earth As It Is In 
Heaven 

By Carl Sagan and 

Ann Druyan 

Revisiting the creation of 

our solar 

system reminds us of the 

.link between 

the Earth and all that 

surrounds it. 

50 

How to Build an Alien 

By Keith Ferrell 

58 

Fiction: Venus Is Hell 

By Jack Williamson 

73 

How to Save the Space 

Program 

By Jerry Grey 

76 

A Channel for Science 

Fiction 

By Melanie Menagh and 

Stephen Mills 

84 

The Bubbling Universe 

By Thomas R. McDonough 

and David Brin 

92 

Cosmologies in 

Conflict 

By Dennis Overbye 

101 

Interview 

By Doug Stewart 

105 

Anti-Matter 

A field guide to ETs 



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FIRST UUORD 



THE SEARCH FOR EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE: 

The goal is to answer age-old philosophical questions about ourselves 

By Frank Drake 






From a distance, at twi- 
light, you might almost 
mistake them for human. 

I suspect they'll have their heads 
on top, as we do, and walk up- 
right, but I hope that intelligent ex- 
traterrestrials have four arms in- 
stead of two. Two aren't enough, 
in my opinion. 

My scientific colleagues raise 
their eyebrows when I speculate 
on details of appearance, but 
99.9 percent of them agree that 




This article is 



from a new book, 
Is Anyone 
Out There?, ay 
Franh Drake 
and Dava Sobel, 
published 
this month by 
Deiacorte 
Press. Drake Is 
professor 
of astronomy and 
astrophysics at 
UC-Santa Cruz, 
and president 
of the SETI In- 
stitute in 
Mountain View, 
California. 

6 OMNI 



other intelligent life forms exist — 
and that large populations of 
them may infiltrate the universe. 

Personally, I find nothing more 
tantalizing than the thought that 
radio messages from alien civili- 
zations in space are passing 
through our offices and homes, 
right now, like a whisper we can't 
quite hear. 

I have tracked those radio sig- 
nals for more than 30 years in the 
search for extraterrestrial intelli- 
gence (S£TI). I engineered the 
first modern search in 1960 at the 
National Radio Astronomy Obser- 
vatory in Green Bank, West Vir- 
ginia. I named it "Project Ozma." 
For two months I used what we 
now consider crude equipment to 



listen for intelligent signals from 
two nearby stars. 

With the marvelous technolog- 
ical advances of recent years, we 
could repeat Project Ozma today 
in a fraction of a second, We 
could scan a million stars or 
more at distances of at least a 
thousand light-years. 

And we will. Such a search is 
planned, funded, and ready to be- 
gin operations this month — the 
long-awaited NASA SETI Micro- 
wave Observing Project. 

Until the late 1980s, our inabil- 
ity to find another civilization sim- 
ply meant that we had not 
looked long enough or hard 
enough. Failure to detect alien in- 
telligence in no way proved that 
extraterrestrials' did not exist. Rath- 
er, our efforts were puny in rela- 
tion to the enormity of the task. 

Then, many people began to 
grasp the nature of the challenge, 
the investment required to suc- 
ceed, and the importance of suc- 
cess to all humanity. They 
pushed for a serious search — 
and won. NASA committed $100 
million to a mission spanning the 
1990s. Its outcome is likely to be 
the imminent detection of signals 
from an extraterrestrial civilization. 
This discovery, which I expect to 
witness by the year 2000, will pro- 
foundly change the world. 

In all likelihood, any civilization 
we can detect will be more ad- 
vanced than our own. But unlike 
the primitive civilizations on 
Earth thai were overpowered by 
more advanced technological so- 
cieties, we need not fear being ex- 
ploited or enslaved. The extrater- 
restrials aren't going to come and 
eat us; they are too far away to 
pose a threat. Even back-and- 
forth conversation with them is im- 
probable, since radio signals, trav- 
eling at the speed of light, take 
years to reach the nearest stars 
and many millennia to get to the 
planets of stars where advanced 



civilizations may reside. One-way 
communication is likely, however. 

Just as our radio and television 
broadcasts leak into space, car- 
rying news of our existence, trans- 
missions from planets of other 
stars may have been arriving at 
Earth for billions of years. Some 
may even be intentional messag- 
es regarding alien culture, histo- 
ry, and technology. Many ency- 
clopedias' worth of information 
could be transmitted (and re- 
ceived) easily and cheaply. 

Though SETI science con- 
cerns antenna diameters and sig- 
nal frequencies, the goal of the 
searching is to answer age-old phi- 
losophical questions about our- 
selves — Where did we come 
from? Are we unique? What 
does it mean to be human? 

Such thoughts led me to at- 
tempt Project Ozma, risking my 
professional reputation and future 
employment, even public ridicule. 
At that time, no scientist talked se- 
riously about extraterrestrial life. 
As a beginning astronomer, I'd dis- 
covered Van Allen radiation 
belts around Jupiter, created ra- 
dio maps of the Galactic center, 
and measured Venus's tempera- 
ture via its radio spectrum, but I 
had a long way to go before my 
career was secure. 

Project Ozma failed to detect 
extraterrestrial intelligence but suc- 
ceeded in demonstrating our 
group's commitment to SETI. It al- 
so portrayed SETI as a legitimate, 
do-able, scientific endeavor. And 
it stimulated activity among oth- 
ers who shared our interest but 
had lacked the means to search. 

The NASA SETI project culmi- 
nates the quest that Ozma start- 
ed. According to the Drake Equa- 
tion, approximately 10,000 ad- 
vanced extraterrestrial civiliza- 
tions share our Milky Way galaxy. 
Any one of them should have 
something of supreme import- 
ance to tell us. DQ 



onnrui 



connnnuaiicATiDrus 



READERS' WRITES: 

Unchained memory, the love affair continues, 

and the magic of reason and rhyme 



i a Bottle 

I am quite assured of the integrity of Dr. 
Jacques Berweniste [Ghost Molecules, 
June 1992], the carefulness of his re- 
search, and the accuracy of his results. 
His conclusions, however, are not the 
only hypothesis. If these experiments 
have been confined to the immunologi- 
cal field, is it not possible that Benven- 
iste has discovered an unsuspected 
functioning of the immune system, name- 
ly that a tissue ceil, when exposed to 
an allergen, emits a substance which 
triggers its neighboring cells to react in 
the same way, each emitting more of 
the triggering substance and resulting 
in a chain reaction? 

Chris Lihou 
Troy, VA 

Dr. Benvenisio replies; There is no rea- 
son to believe that a cell belonging to 
the immune system will react different- 
ly than any other celt, except for the 
specificity and sensitivity with which it 
could react to an antigen. In our sys- 
tems, we have no more molecule, even 
in "vanishing small amounts, " since we 
have no molecule at all but only their 
"message. " Since our experiments are 
inhibited by magnetic fields, we are 
now certain that this activity originates 
from electric, magnetic, or electromag- 
netic fields. New experiments are now 
being completed that will bring defini- 
tive proof of what we are showing. 

Vision of Love 

Our love affair with Omni began as 
soon as we read Bob Guccione's cur- 
tain-rise article in the October 1978 is- 
sue. We were mesmerized by his vision- 
ary concept of the eventual merge of 
science and religion. In recounting the 
birth of his brainchild, his words: "We 
rose from an intractable position of sim- 
ple, unquestioning faith to one of acute, 
cultural concern for truth and knowl- 
edge . , ." evoked common stirrings 
within us. From then on, we were 
hooked. Our sons picked up more 
than reading skills as they grew up 
with your'didactic writing. Although 
times were lean, we could never do with- 



out Omni. Thanks for consistently adult 

reading for those of us would-be 

space travelers who, if not for Omni, 

could not be privy to the facts that lend 

credence to our fantasies of the future! 

Dolores and Vincent 

Mastanduno and Family 

Carrol Iton, GA 

Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only a Scientist 

Your article "Top Ten Known or Sus- 
pected Scientific Frauds" [June 1992] 
failed to include the Warren Commis- 
sion's infamous "single bullet" or "mag- 
ic bullet" theory that was concocted to 
try to support the single-assassin alle- 
gation for the JFK assassination. Even 
if it is conceded for the sake of argu- 
ment that the magic bullet theory is with- 
in the realm of scientific possibility, 
thai does not make it remotely proba- 
ble, much less plausible. The notion 
that any prosecutor could prove the mag- 
ic bullet theory to an unbiased jury be- 
yond a reasonable doubt is laughable. 
D. Bradley Kizzia 
Attorney at Law 
Dallas, TX 

A Rhyme in Time 

Your requiem for- Isaac Asimov [June 
1992] was a moving, eloquent tribute 
. to a man whose writing has in so many 
ways touched us all. Here's a story 
that conveys Dr. Asimov's generosity of 
spirit. Some years ago, he and I en- 
gaged in a correspondence in which 
we exchanged limericks on a weekly ba- 
sis. At one point, noting that my limer- 
icks "rhyme and scan with professional 
aplomb and are witty besides," he gra- 
ciously added, "I don't know that I 
match you, and that does nothing for my 
swollen self-love." My reply to him was: 
'Though you sometimes may falter or 
stumble 

Your self-esteem never should crumble. 
The words that you've penned 
Live on without end — 
Dear friend, you've no right to be 

humble. ' 
Isaac Asimov will long be remembered. 
Leonard Greenberg 
Herndon, VADO 





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FORunn 



SCIENCE AND THE EDGES OF INFINITY: 

It's Omni's fourteenth birthday. Help us celebrate our mission! 



By Keith Ferrell 




showing us 

wonders we never 

Imagined. 




■ f% ■ e are living through a 
I I classic period in the 
U w development of our 
understanding of the universe, 
how it was created, how it has 
evolved, where it is headed. Per- 
haps not since the early years of 
this century has there been so 
much ferment and excitement in 
the fields of cosmology and as- 
trophysics, with new discoveries 
and insights coming, it some- 
times seems, every week. 

This month we celebrate Omni's 
fourteenth anniversary, and it's ap- 
propriate that we devote much of 
this special issue to matters cos- 
mic. From the magazine's incep- 
tion, the mysteries of the universe 
and its workings have served as' 
one of our major foci, around 
which much of our editorial em- 
phasis revolves. 

Now. more than ever, we are 
renewing our determination to 
bring to you the latest and most 
exciting developments in this 
most ultimate of scientific fields. 
The cosmos, if you will, is Omni's 
stomping ground, and in the 
year to come, we'll be tramping 
around some of its more interest- 
ing regions, poking our editorial 
noses into some of its mysteries, 
pausing now and then to exa- 
mine some of its wonders. 

It's going to be fun, and some 
of it may be controversial. 
Certainly the world of science 
can be as contentious and pro- 
vocative as the world of politics. 
(And probably a lot more interest- 
ing: This issue was assembled dur- 
ing the heat of a presidential cam- 
paign, and it's been a relief ev- 
ery day to relax with really import- 
ant matters rather than some of 
the trivialities that hang up too 
many of our candidates.) Read 
this issue carefully, and you'll en- 
counter some divergent views of 
cosmic evolution, theories in con- 
flict if not in contradiction. 

That's as it should be and 



brings up a topic that I'm sure is 
understood by all Omni readers 
but may be less clear to those not 
as familiar with the workings of sci- 
ence. No field of science is stat- 
ic. Science itself is an evolution- 
ary process, just as are so many 
of the areas that science investi- 
gates. Each step forward in our 
understanding of the universe 
calls into question previously 
held and "unshakable" facts. 

Too many people view this as 
a flaw in the scientific method, as 
evidence that science doesn't re- 
ally know anything. We hear this 
sort of argument all the time, of- 
ten from correspondents or com- 
mentators who are themselves un- 
shakable in their conviction that 
they know the "real" truth, wheth- ' 
er that truth comes from a reli- 
gious text, from personal obser- 
vation, or from mystical insight. 
Most of these arguments have 
one thing in common: We're 
asked to accept them on faith. 

Well, faith is- certainly impor- 
tant, beautiful in its nature and pro- 
found In its reach. But the es- 
sence of science is skepticism, 
not faith, it's as though all scien- 
tists come from a sort of univer- 
sal Missouri — "Show me" is the 
watchword of scientific inquiry. 

Sometimes this skepticism can 
lead to bitter disagreement, even 
violent argument. We've covered 
a number of those arguments in 
Omni and will continue to do so, 
More often, the spirit of skeptical 
inqujry leads to agreements to dis- 
agree, firm but polite debate, chal- 
lenges and responses. 

The popular press, of which 
Omni is' indeed a part, too often 
plays a role in encouraging pub- 
lic misapprehension of how sci- 
ence works. A good example is 
the Hubble Space Telescope. 
While the flaws in the telescope's 
construction are inexcusable, too 
■much of the press coverage of 
those flaws implied that the de- 



vice was totally unusable, a dis- 
aster for science. Nothing could 
be farther from the truth. Even 
with its flaws, Hubble is perform- 
ing marvelously, extending our un- 
derstanding of the universe, giv- 
ing us glimpses of wonders and 
mysteries far beyond anything 
we've seen before. Those tele- 
scopic glimpses, in turn, fuel fur- 
ther debate, new challenges, 
new responses. Once Hubble is 
fitted with corrective lenses, we 
can expect even more insights, 
even grander views. And other in- 
struments are persuading the uni- 
verse to yield other secrets al- 
most constantly. 

For all the marvels that a huge 
endeavor such as Hubble can re- 
veal, much of current cosmologi- 
cal exploration employs more ac- 
cessible tools. A blackboard, a 
piece of chalk, and that most mi- 
raculous of scientific tools, the in- 
quiring human mind, are the real 
essence of cosmological explora- 
tion. The science of the universe 
is a vital and ongoing thought ex- 
periment taking place in an in- 
tellectual laboratory whose bound- 
aries are nothing less than infinite. 
fThe nature of those infinite bound- 
aries, of course, depends on 
which scientist you're talking to.) 

Our job at Omni is to translate 
those thought experiments into 
clear and striking prose and graph- 
ics, to share with you the best 
and the brightest examples of cur- 
rent thinking, to make available, 
in our pages, as much of that in- 
finite laboratory as we can: 

It's ajob we love and treasure, 
and I don't think that any of us in- 
volved in this magazine would 
trade places with anyone in this 
world or other ones. And that's es- 
pecially true each year when our 
birthday rolls around. 

So help us blow out the can- 
dles if you will, and join us for a 
cosmic birthday party as Omni 
turns 14. Dd 



nnEDiciruE 



LSD PSYCHOTHERAPY: 

A promising Swiss experiment proves more tlian a trip down memory lane 

By A. J. S. Rayl 



New studies 

show the 

infamous 1960s 

drug lo be 

potent against 

personality 



For most people, LSD con- 
jures up visions of the Six- 
ties, the psychedelic 
days when counterculture rebels 
turned on, tuned in, and 
dropped out. That street abuse 
prompted LSD's demise. 

What most people don't know, 
however, is that this "mind-blow- 
ing" chemical was considered by 
numerous researchers a potential 
wonder drug. At the time it was 
banned in the early 1960s, more 
than 2,000 articles and studies on 
the potential of LSD as a treat- 
ment for mental disorders and oth- 




and other disor- 
ders: After 
undergoing LSD 
psychother- 
apy, an anorexic 
woman be- 
gan lo eat again. 



er afflictions appeared in respect- 
ed journals around the world, 

Despite its early prarnise,.hun- 
dreds of studies were stopped 
midstream. "Now things are be- 
ginning to open up again," says 
Albert Hofmann, 86, who first syn- 
thesized d-Iysergic acid diethyl- 
amide-25 more than 50 years 
ago while working as a research 
chemist. "I have always been con- 
fident that the facts about. LSD 
would come out." 

Indeed, researchers are offer- 
ing LSD a second chance. Al- 
though only a handful of U.S. re- 



searchers are pursuing LSD ani- 
mal studies, scientists in Hof- 
mann's homeland are conducting 
intriguing work on human sub- 
jects. In 1988, the Swiss govern- 
ment licensed a group of psychi- 
atrists to use the drug. They are 
treating patients suffering from 
persdnality disorders such as an- 
orexia, obsessive-compulsive dis- 
orders, and depression. 

The doctors have documented 
some 150 case studies on the ef- 
ficacy of LSD as an adjunct to psy- 
chotherapy. Next month they will 
present their results at an interna- 
tional conference on the study of 
consciousness in Gbttingen, Ger- 
many. The psychiatrists, all in pri- 
vate practice, are using LSD on 
the "tough" cases — basically 
"those who did not respond to 
and had no success with other 
psychotherapy techniques," says 
Juraj Styk, M.D., president of the 
Swiss Physicians Association for 
Psycholytic Therapy, the group 
overseeing the research. 

The Swiss doctors are adminis- 
tering 100 to 200 microgram dos- 
es of LSD to enhance the thera- 
peutic process by making re- 
pressed memories and feelings 
more accessible. This differs 
from the. psychedelic strength— 
500 micrograms — of Sandoz's 
LSD-25, or the street favorite, 
Owsley's Orange Sunshine, 
which induced a profound peak 
or mystical experience. 

Prior to their first LSD session, 
the Swiss patients undergo at 
least six months of therapy to 
rule out individuals for whom LSD 
therapy would be inappropriate. 
"Those on the edge of breaking 
down are obviously not good can- 
didates," says Styk. Moreover, to 
prepare for their "trips," patients 
read up on LSD and meet in ses- 
sions before embarking on the 
first journey into their minds. As 
Styk explains, "The experience 
can be frightening." 



Styk describes a typical scenar- 
io; Homework done, the patients 
attend a session on Friday after- 
noon and then start the experi- 
ence on Saturday morning. Ther- 
apists and one or two "sitters" — 
patients who are not taking 
drugs — guide eight to ten pa- 
tients on their trips, which last 
about nine hours. Another doctor, 
Jorg Roth, administers the drug 
in individual sessions. 

The presence of attending ther- 
apists 'is critical. "If a patient 
feels fear during the trip, they 
might do anything to distract them- 
selves or run from that fear," 
says Peter Baumann, M.D., the for- 
mer president of the association. 
"The therapist urges the patient 
to a certain degree to stay with 
it, to examine the problems, un- 
derstand where they are coming 
from, and see them through." 

While psychological break- 
throughs usually occur in both 
group and individual sessions, 
the doctors are quick to point out 
that LSD is "just a catalyst" in the 
therapeutic process. "LSD facili- 
tates getting into. the mind, help- 
ing the patient get deeper into re- 
pressed emotions more quickly," 
says Roth. "Once that break- 
through is achieved, there is usu- 
ally much work to do." 

So far the Swiss experiments 
show LSD, which is not addictive, 
to be a potent therapeutic tool 
that even alleviates patient addic- 
tions to alcohol and tranquilizers. 
Adds Styk, "a common theme 
among the patients who take LSD 
is better self-esteem." 

The outlook for LSD therapy in 
the United States, however, 
seems doubtful, "While we are 
hopeful," says Robert Zanger, 
president of the California- 
based Albert Hofmann Founda- 
tion, "we are well aware that lin- 
gering governmental concern 
has made approval and funds for 
new studies very difficult." DQ 



POLITICAL 
SCIENCE 



FLIGHT OR FANCY? 

Vertical takeoff and landing craft's upward mobility 




By Tom Dworetzky 



with federal sup- 
port, the V-22 
Osprey technology 
could grow 
into a viable state- 
of-the-art 
civilian industry. 



Europe's got a consortium 
working on it. Ishida Cor- 
poration is backing its 
development efforts at Ross 
Perot's cargoport near Forth 
Worth. /Ms the vertical takeoff and 
landing aircraft — something be- 
tween a helicopter and a fixed- 
wing airplane. VTOLs could 
prove a revolutionary addition to 
America's crumbling transporta- 
tion infrastructure and the making 
or breaking of our domination in 
global aeronautics. But VTOL's up- 
ward mobility depends on wheth- 
er Congress and the Administra- 
tion decide to go beyond military 
R&D to help convert this technol- 
ogy to civilian uses. 

Airplanes are one thing we've ■ 
been building a lot of lately. For 
decades, the Department of De- 
fense has employed vast num- 
bers of workers to produce a 
range of snappy little fighter 
planes and stealthed things— 
and, hey, that's fine as long as 
you use them up bombing peo- 
ple. But peace is generally break- 
ing out, and the smaller rumbles 
we're getting into are largely 
against folks we lent money so 
they couid buy arms from us. 

Problem is the industry has 
made ends meet by selling last 
year's models at the global arms 
bazaar, with some unfortunate re- 
sults. For instance, we indulged 
in an expensive exercise devot- 
ed primarily to repossessing, met- 



aphorically, a decade's worth of 
stuff we sold to Saddam Hussein. 
That was not only bad for Iraq, it 
was pretty bad business. Taxpay- 
ers, having forked over loans to 
Hussein so he could buy weap- 
ons, now get to pay for Desert 
Storm to destroy them. Even 
worse is the way arms manufac- 
ture has skewed aeronautics-in- 
dustry economics. Defense cut- 
backs have led to thousands of 
skilled workers getting laid off 
with no hope of seeing the go- 
go years return. 

Enter the V-22 Osprey, a mod- 
est vertical takeoff and landing tilt- 
rotor craft. It's a DC3-sized crit- 
ter with motors that can point up 
for takeoff and landing and rotate 
forward for cruising. It's also an 
excellent candidate for conver- 
sion from military to civilian uses. 

After staunchly claiming that 
the V-22 was budget-busting 
pork barrel, the Administration 
has finally given in to Congression- 
al pressure. In July, it reversed 
course and decided to devote 
$1 .5 billion to development of the 
Osprey by Bell Helicopter Textron 
and Boeing Helicopters in the key 
re-electoral states of Texas and 
Pennsylvania. A more cynical 
soul than I might suggest that the 
Administration cut the program, 
knowing full well that Congress 
liked it and would put it back. 

Enough beltway bickering. It 
wouldn't be the first time military 




money primed the pump for civil- 
ian technology. ' Helicopters 
came from defense research; so 
did computers. Beyond making 
work for Americans, VTOLs such 
as the Osprey would prove a val- 
uable addition to our transporta- 
tion structure. VTOLs require no 
runways; their airports, known as 
vertiports, are like oversized hel- 
icopter pads. As a result, they 
can be located in more crowded 
areas where increasing the size 
of existing airports is impossible. 

Right now, according to esti- 
mates by the Congressional Of- 
fice of Technology Assessment, 
the United States has about a five- 
year lead on the rest of the world 
in tilt-rotor aircraft. They won't 
solve our infrastructure problems 
alone. They won't solve our job 
problems alone. Tilt-rotors will 
land somewhere between helicop- 
ters and fixed-wing turbo-props 
in cost effectiveness, which 
means they'll probably be used 
only by people willing to fork over 
regular coach- or business-class 
rates. On the other hand, many 
of those people are now flying in 
A300 Airbuses, the European 
midsized plane that has in- 
creased its world market share 
from 10 to 30 percent in the last 
decade at the,expense of the 
now nearly kaput aircraft manu- 
facturer McDonnell Douglas. 

Everyone in Washington, wheth- 
er Congress or the Administra- 
tion, needs the guts to make choic- 
es, pick winners, and take the 

heat. Let them pick VTOL, a 

technology we lead in and one 
that would help re-employ dis- 
placed aviation workers. The Os- 
prey is an excellent weather 
vane for technology watchers to 
judge which way the winds of 
change blow. If the government 
stalls on the fledgling commercial 
VTOL business, rest assured, Eu- 
ropeans and the Japanese will 
help it soar. DO 



FURJDS 

BOOMERS ONLY: 

Golden parachutes for life's second half 

By Linda Marsa 



Preparing for 
the second hall 
ol our lives 
will be entirely 
different 
than il has been 
for previous 
generations when 
people tolled 
in physically ex- 
hausting jabs. 



Those ominous warr'ngs 
have been trumpeted so 
relentlessly that it's hard 
not to become demoralized. By 
the time baby boomers retire, fi- 
nancial mavens scold, their gold- 
en years may be anything but: In- 
flation will gobble up their paltry 
savings, and they can't rely on So- 
cial Security, home-equity bonan- 
zas, or company pensions. This 
time, the generation that post- 
poned everything until the last pos- 
sible moment — growing up, get- 
ting a real job, having babies — 
won't be able to escape the con- 
sequences of their profligate 
ways. Or will they? 

Experts have taken a fresh 
look, and the future is not nearly 
so grim. And boomers have got- 
ten a bum rap. They're not self- 
indulgent— they were just born at 
the wrong time. Ironically, the de- 
mographic changes that got us in- 
to this mess in the first place will 
be what ultimately bails us out. 

"Gloomy scenarios assume the 
future will be exactly like today," 
says Richard Jackson, a consul- 
tant at Hudson Institute in Indian- 
apolis. "But numerous studies 
show workers in their late sixties 
are as productive and quick to 
grasp new skills as those dec- 
ades younger. There does come 
a point when capacity to work di- 
minishes for all but a few — but 
that's much later in the life cycle 
than it had been." 

There's also a scarcity of 
trained workers in the pipeline, 
and the shortage will be acute by 
century's end. Baby boomers, the 
most well-educated generation in 
history, will suddenly find them- 
selves courted "by employers. 
"Age discrimination will evaporate 
in the face of pressure to keep pro- 
ductive, experienced workers in 
the labor force generating tax rev- 
enues," says Karen Meredith, a 
CPA and executive director of the 
American Association of Boom- 



ers, in Irving, Texas. "Working 
well into our seventies will be the 
norm," along with flexible working 
arrangements to accommodate 
the elderly. 

In fact, those displaced assem- 
bly line workers who are retrain- 
ing are unwitting pioneers: They 
are the first wave of Americans to 
embark on second and even 
third careers. "Saving $7,000 a 
year is out of the question for 
most people, but you can do a 




host of other things to avoid be- 
ing financially squeezed in your 
later years," says Meredith. 
Chief among these are acquiring 
new skills — learning about com- 
puters, desktop publishing, or 
how to repair electronic equip- 
ment — to remain marketable and 
stay ahead of the curve when the 
economy goes through slumps. 
Even on the financial side, 
there is good news. The person- 
al savings rate of 4 percent is at 
an all-time low. But that needs to 
be put in perspective, according 
to a 1991 Urban Institute report. 
Our parents had the luck to be 
-members of an unusually tiny 
birth cohort between the 1920s 



and the 1940s and rode two dec- 
ades of explosive expansion in 
the 1950s and 1960s— which is 
why they had plenty. 

In contrast, the nation's 80 mil- 
lion baby boomers' entrance into 
the labor force coincided with two 
decades of a stagnant economy. 
No wonder they need two in- 
comes and saving is such a sacri- 
fice. But in the words of noted phi- 
losopher, Yogi Berra, "It ain't over 
'til it's over." According to some 
experts," a decade of decent 
growth early in the next century 
when leading-edge boomers — 
relieved of financial obligations to 
their children — turn 65, could 
swell personal wealth dramatically. 

In the meantime, though, stock- 
pile at least three months' worth 
of bare-bones living expenses as 
a hedge against emergencies, 
and wipe out costly credit-card 
debt. Then analyze how much 
you'll need to cushion a semi- 
retirement, and balance that 
against what you can realistical- 
ly expect from Social Security 
and corporate pensions. The short- 
fall is what you need to make up 
through earnings on investments 
or income. 

And late starters can still 
catch up. Take a 40-year-old wom- 
an who has accumulated a 
$25,000 nest egg and contrib- 
utes an additional $2,229 each 
year. If she invests her money in 
vehicles earning 10 percent an- 
nually, her savings will balloon to 
$500,000 by the time she's 65, 

And don't rule out innovative so- 
lutions coming up on the horizon, 
like Sixties-style communes 
among financially strapped sen- 
iors. "Chances are, in the future, 
people will find a way of having Ij 
a comfortable retirement," says ft 
Sheila Zedlewski, acting director ■ 
of income security and benefits 
policy for the Urban Institute. "Life- 
styles could be a lot different 
from what they are today." DO 



WHEELS 



ACHTUNG, BABY: 

Germans perfect the recyclable car 

By Melanie Menagh 



Auto makers 

have iieen 

spurred on by 

Hie German 



ol f he most 
entn'ronmentatly 
forward-look- 
ing In Europe. The 
boys in Bonn 
came up with a 
canny little 
scheme to encour- 
age recycling. 



^* s you're purring along in 
^Mft your Mercedes, proba- 
# » bly the lastthing you're 
thinking about is junking this four- 
wheeled testament to your suc- 
cess and good taste. Or perhaps 
you favor a BMW. Would break 
your heart to think of it consigned 
to a scrap heap, wouldn't it? 

When Germans, renowned for 
their passion for things 
automotive, see acre up- 
on acre of car carcass- 
es, it breaks their 
hearts for different rea- 
sons than yo.u might sus- 
pect. Over 2 million au- 
tomobiles are scrapped 
each year in Germany, 
each representing half a 
ton of things like iron 
and steel, glass, plastic, 
and other materials — some of 
them highly toxic. In a nation 
with limited domestic resources — 
including that most precious of all 
natural resources, open space — 
German car manufacturers have 
been working diligently toward de- 
veloping a comprehensive pro- 
gram to recycle automobiles 
when they reach the end of their 
useful lives. 

About 75 percent of a scrap 
car consists of readily recyclable 
metals. The remainder— plastics, 
glass, operating fluids, and 
such — have traditionally been con- 
signed to the landfill as "light 
waste." Lawmakers are prodding 
reluctant recyclers by (quite cor- 
rectly) reclassifying "light" waste 
as "special" waste. Light waste 
costs 40 to 150 Deutsche marks 
per ton to deposit in a landfill. 
"Special" (hazardous) waste 
costs 500 to 1 ,800 DM per ton for 
disposal. In other words, the gov- 
ernment upped the ante for dis- 
carding a used VW from 100 DM 
($60) to 1,200 DM ($720). Multi- 
ply this by 2 million cars per 
year, and suddenly recycling be- 
gins to look very attractive. 



R&D teams from the Ruhr to 
the Black Forest set their world- 
class intelligence, human and ar- 
tificial, to work on the problem. It 
wasn't enough just to plan new re- 
cycling strategies; an entirely new 
breed of car would need to be de- 
veloped. In the old days, cars 
were made of simple things; 
steel, glass, rubber, fabric, and 




anything else that could be easi- 
ly stripped and disposed of. To- 
day, in addition to these tradition- 
al materials, the average car is al- 
so comprised of 250 pounds of 
20 different types of plastic — 
sometimes mixed with other ma- 
terials: costly rare metals like plat- 
inum and rhodium and toxic sub- 
stances like used lubricants, as- 
bestos, and refrigerants. 

Companies like BMW, Mer- 
cedes, and Volkswagen have set 
a target of over 90-percent re- 
cyclability for their new model 
cars. In order to achieve this, the 
entire life cycle of the car and its 
components need to be consid- 
ered from the very beginning of 
the design process. Important in- 
novations include specifying ma- 
terials that are recyclable and/or 
cause minimal environmental dam- 
age, maximizing the use of dis- 
assembled and repaired parts, re- 
ducing the amount and variety of 
plastics used, marking plastics 
by type so they can be easily sort- 
ed, using fewer varieties of ma- 
terials, avoiding components 
made of inseparable materials 
(like mixtures of plastic and met- 



al), and designing cars speciiical- 
ly for easy disassembly. 

Obviously, car companies 
can't go it alone on this type of 
project. They've enlisted the 
help of other businesses like the 
steel industry to devise more ef- 
ficient methods of producing high- 
quality steel from scrap, and the 
plastics industry to develop sim- 
pler and, hence, more 
easily reconditionable 
plastics. In addition to 
developing new prod- 
ucts for traditional indus- 
tries, the auto-reclama- 
tion project is fueling the 
development of a new 
industry: There will be a 
boom in businesses de- 
voted to disassembling 
cars and devising spe- 
cial techniques and equipment to 
assist in the process. 

There are cars on line at this 
very moment that are exemplars 
of the recyclability design princi- 
ple. Volkswagen Golfs have fuel 
tanks made of recycled materials, 
and their bumpers are made of re- 
cycled old bumpers. The lug- 
gage compartment lining of 
BMW's new 3 series is made of 
bumper panels obtained from for- 
mer BMWs. Mercedes S-class se- 
dans and forthcoming SEC 
coupes contain no asbestos, cad- 
mium, nickel plating, or R12 re- 
frigerant, and all plastic parts 
weighing more than 3.5 ounces 
are marked for recycling. 

When recycling becomes oblig- 
atory throughout the Continent, 
as inevitably it will, German car 
companies can sit back in their 
recycled seats and watch the com- 
petition play catch-up. For Ger- 
man car makers, becoming the 
leaders in auto recycling is a win- 
win situation. Or maybe they've 
just cottoned onto what autophil- 
iacs have known for years: That 
old Beemer is just too valuable to 
throw away. DO 



nniruD 



BORN TO BELIEVE: 

Your values about God, home, and country may be influenced by your genes 

By Kathleen McAuliffe 



Identical twins Mark Newman 
and Jerry Levey mel for the 
first time seven years ago 
when they were 31, but ihey 
could have known each other all 
their lives. Not only do these men 
look alike, they think alike on near- 
ly every topic from the Three 
Stooges (their idols) to three- 
piece suits (which they refuse to 
wear). In the political realm, the 
twins share an abhorrence of Big 
Government, oppose gun control, 
and advocate tough laws against 




.crime — including the death pen- 
alty. They firmly support a wom- 
an's right to abortion. Neither at- 
tends religious services, although 
both believe in God. Says Mew- 
man, "We agree on ninety-nine 
percent of things." Their most se- 
rious disagreement? "He likes the 
Washington Redskins. I prefer the 
Dallas Cowboys." 

Reared-apart twins who grow 
up to hold virtually identical opin- 
ions. are a curious phenomenon. 
Many researchers have dis- 
missed such uncanny similarities 
as one of life's funny quirks: in- 
triguing, but no more significant 



of a deeper bond than, say, bump- 
ing into a stranger at a party wear- 
ing the same outfit, Even heredi- 
taria ns (those who believe genes 
affect psychological traits) main- 
tain that social, political, and reli- 
gious views are strictly culturally 
transmitted. Values, after all, are 
instilled at home, school, and. 
church. For that reason, religious 
and political attitudes have long 
been used as a baseline mea- 
sure of noninherited attributes in 
behavioral genetic research. 

The alternative possibility — 
that attitudes might be influenced 
by our genetic makeup — 
seemed too farfetched to warrant 
serious consideration. Yet that her- 

"We agree on 
ninety-nine percent 

of things," 

says Mark Newman 

(at left). 

He and identical 

twin Jerry 
Levey met for the 

first time 
seven years ago. 

esy is now being invoked by sci- 
entists claiming to find a striking 
statistical correlation in the views 
of twins that holds up regardless 
of whether they are raised togeth- 
er or apart. "I was totally sur- 
prised by the results," concedes 
Thomas Bouchard, Jr., a psychol- 
ogist who heads the twin-study 
program at the University of Min- 
nesota. "No theory I was taught 
could explain these findings." 

"Nature prevails enormously 
over nurture," proclaimed the Eng- 
lish scientist Sir Francis Galton 
over a century ago. Modern en- 
vironmentalists shunned that 
view. But by the Eighties, Galton's 
contention had gained backing 
from two related lines of research. 
The IQ scores of identical twins 
reared apart were found to have 



a .7 correlation, meaning that 
roughly 70 percent of the varia- 
tion of IQ in these adult twins is 
associated with genetic variation. 
Next, many personality traits 
were shown to be under heavy ge- 
netic influence. Identical twins 
reared apart correlate around 50 
percent on measures of such char- 
acteristics as extraversion, fear- 
fulness, and impulsiveness. 

From the hereditarians' perspec- 
tive, this made good sense. 
Genes, they argued, could affect 



Attitudes 
may not only 
tie {earned, 
ihey may be 
Inherited. 




the brain's organization and func- 
tion, thereby influencing traits rang- 
ing from cognitive ability to tem- 
perament. For example, they pos- 
tulated that a child born with an 
excitable, revved-up nervous sys- 
tem might find novel stimuli more 
alarming and thus develop into a 
shy adult. But none of these the- 
ories was construed to mean 
that attitudes are inherited. Such 
a notion was deemed ludicrous un- 
til a 1 986 report by Nicholas Mar- 
tin of Australia's Queensland In- 
stitute of Medical Research and 
Lindon Eaves of the Medical Col- 
lege of Virginia forced colleagues 



nniruD 



Identical 

twins show tar 

greater 

similarity In 

values than 

fraternal twins. 



to reconsider. 

The investigators surveyed the 
attitudes of 4,635 twin pairs in Eng- 
land and Australia. Their question- 
naire tapped views on issues 
from religion and sex to the treat- 
ment of criminals. The twins 
were also scored on measures 
such as tough -mi ndedness and 
"left versus right" political lean- 
ings. The outcome: Identical 
twins showed far greater attitudi- 
nal similarity than fraternal twins. 
Male identical twins correlated 75 




percent on a measure of political 
radicalism, whereas fraternal 
twins correlated only 52 percent. 
Attitudes on 19 items, ranging 
from divorce and apartheid to 
computer music, demonstrated a 
strong genetic component of trans- 
mission. By comparison, only 
three items showed significant cul- 
tural transmission. 

Understandably, radical envi- 
ronmentalists have balked at 
these claims on the basisof a sin- 
gle study. But recently, their po- 
sition has eroded with the publi- 
cation of two more studies that ap- 
pear to confirm and extend the 



uate religiosity in 53 ideniical- 
and 31 fraternal-twin pairs 
reared apart. After comparing 
their scores to a much larger sam- 
ple of identical- and fraternal- 
twin pairs reared together, 
Bouchard concludes that approx- 
imately 50 percent of the similar- 
ities on all five scales are geneti- 
cally influenced. In a related 
study, Bouchard measured a ge- 
netic influence behind the tenden- 
cy toward traditionalism — that is, 
endorsement of religious values, 
strict child-rearing methods, pun- 
ishment of offenders, and resist- 
ance to change. 

Scientists find 

striking 

correlation in the 

views of 

identical twins 

that hold 

up whether the 

twins were 

raised separately or 

together. 

Environmentalists still find the 
data hard to swallow. "Biology 
doesn't have one plausible mech- 
anism to explain why colonialism 
or strict child-rearing would be her- 
itable," says Harvard's molecular 
population geneticist, Richard Le- 
wontin. "When someone tells me 
they've found facts in contradic- 
tion to everything we know, I'm 
skeptical." Although Bouchard ad- 
mits the data is unexpected, he's 
not without theories. Attitudes, he 
offers, may be affected by deep- 
er personality traits and cognitive 
styles. Genes, he suggests, may 
indirectly affect attitudes by intro- 
ducing a perceptual bias, making 
an individual more interested in 
certain aspects of his or her en- 
■ vironment. For instance, a person 
with perfect pitch — a trait now be- 



lieved to be under heavy genetic 
influence— might find the mathe- 
matical elegance of Mozart's mu- 
sic more stimulating than some- 
one without as fine. an ear. If he's 
right, the implications are star- 
tling. For example, married cou- 
ples who normally do not corre- 
late highly on most traits show tre- 
mendous concordance in atti- 
tudes. This means that right-win- 
gers tend to marry right-wingers 
and left-wingers tend to marry left- 
wingers/This "assortative mating" 




causes an attitude clustering with- 
in families and increases the num- 
ber of people at the extremes of 
the population. "These findings 
don't mean parents, teachers, 
and clergy can't influence kids," 
he says. "It would suggest thai 
they are much less effective in 
transmitting values than previous- 
ly presumed. "00 

The Minnesota Center for Twin and 
Adoption Research is continuing 
to recruit twins and help twins 
reared apart find their co-twin if 
they are searching. For more in- 
formation, call 612-625-4067, 



ELECTRONIC 
UNIVERSE 



DISC DREAMS: 

CD technology finally hits the computer game- market 

By Gregg Keizer 



can took 
forward to a daz- 
zling array 
of new games lor 
their CDs, 
such as Virgin's 



Listen to game makers 
long enough and you'd 
think they had the Holy 
Grail in the back room, just hang- 
in' around waiting for the right mo- 
ment to show itself. Interactive fic- 
tion, multimedia extravaganza, 
movielike sound, full-motion vid- 
eo, hundreds of hours of fun, 
they trumpet at trade shows. All 
coming to your home computer 
or videogame machine. 

This time they might be right. 
Bigger, badder games that de- 
pend on compact discs, the 
same sized CDs that you shove 
into your audio system, seem 
ready to roar off the shelves. 

Games on CD aren't necessar- 



w*$ 



m Guest 

users will dechfe if 

they no any 

more than present 

mediocre 

games in a glitzy 

package. 




ily better— the discs simply offer 
more storage space, as much as 
1,500 floppies — but the sounds, 
music, narration, and images 
that developers can pack on a 
CD can make for a richer, deep- 
er piece of software. 

Some CD games look absolute- 
ly stunning, such as Virgin's 7th 
Guest (IBM PC), a haunted- 
house mystery with elaborate 
sets, video characters, and 



enough creepy music and 

sound effects to make your hair 
stand up. Scheduled for a fall re- 
lease, 7th Guest will come on two 
CDs, cost $100, and play on a 
CD-ROM connected to your PC, 
But is it a game? Hard to tell, 
since the preliminary versions 
were more walk-through than 
fleshed-out story. Will someone 
pay $100 for an interactive mov- 
ie? Hardly. Game players de- 
mand lots of replay or a long play 
time, not just dazzling visuals, 

Easier to judge are the few CD 
games already out and about for 
the PC and Macintosh. By mid- 
year, only a handful made it to 
store shelves. Of those, Inter- 
play's Battle C/ressflBM PC) was 
the best, with the guts of a good ■ 
game frosted over with lots of 
sound and animation, Br&der- 
bund's Where in the World Is 
Carmen Sandiego? (IBM PC) 
gets the nod as the top CD for fam- 
ily fun and home learning, while 
Reactor's Spaceship Warlock 
(Macintosh) wins my vote for its 
SF storyline. 

But the PC and Macintosh are 
just a small tail on a big dog 
when it comes to CD games. The 
numbers belong to the dedicat- 
ed videogame systems. That's 
where the CD electronic entertain- 
ment war will be won or lost. 

Turbo Technology's (formerly 
NEC's) TurboGrafx has had a com- 
panion CD player for years, and 
sprung some intriguing compact 
disc titles on game players, par- 
ticularly ICOM's Sherlock 
Holmes Consulting Detective. 
The TurboGrafx is still the only vid- 
eogame deck with a CD add-on. 

The two major players, Sega 
and Nintendo, will duke it out over 
the next year for top billing on 
CD. Combat's already started, for 
both companies reduced their 
base game systems — the core of 
•any future CD-equipped config- 
uration — to $99 last June. 



The Sega CD, compact disc 
game player coming from Japan, 
will be out first and in time for the 
Christmas selling season. This 
$300 black box stacks under the 
Sega Genesis game system. Sev- 
eral well-known PC software de- 
velopers are rushing to put their 
wares on the Sega CD format, in- 
cluding Sierra and Virgin. Sega 
created a multimillion dollar mul- 
timedia studio in California and en- 
tered into development agree- 
ments with Sony. 

Nintendo's own CD add-on 
won't appear until 1993 and will 
probably debut with fewer titles 
than the Sega, but reportedly 
will cost $100 less, The delay and 
meager list may not be meaning- 
ful, though, since Nintendo will un- 
doubtedly-back the CD machine 
with its marketing muscle. 

Other CD machines hope for a 
piece of the action in this soon-to- 
be glutted hardware market. Phil- 
ips' CD-I, a VCR-looking box 
that connects to your TV, contin- 
ues to languish as a game play- 
er, mostly due to its lackluster soft- 
ware. Its ability to integrate vid- 
eo into more traditional software, 
though, may pump it up. Anoth- 
er consumer electronics giant, 
JVC, sells a sleek unit in Japan 
that combines the Sega game sys- 
tem and CD player with karaoke 
sing-along capabilities. 

All kinds of CD game hardware 
may be here or just around the cor- 
ner, but what of software? Initial- 
ly, you'll pick from a limited library 
with lots of titles coming from the 
PC or based on successful car- 
tridge games. Sierra's The Adven- 
tures of Willy Beamish, for in- 
stance, will leap from the PC to the 
Sega CD and Spectrum Holobyte's 
working on a Star Trek: Next Gen- 
eration game for the Sega. 

The game player's Holy Grail- 
CD entertainment — is ready to 
step out. Let's hope it doesn't 
melt under the lights. OO 



TDDLS 



FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY: 

A coffee-tabie dinosaur museum you'll never want to leave 

By Keith Ferrell 



The startling world 
of dinosaurs 
is beautifully ex- 
plored In the 
Czerkas' lively 
global guide to 
the great reptiles. 




DINOSAURS: A GLOBAL 
VIEW. Sylvia J. Czerkas and 
Stephen A. Czerkas; Mallard 
Press, an imprint of BDD Promo- 
tional Book Company, 666 Fifth Av- 
enue, New York, New York, 
10103; $39.95. 

PLUSES: Gorgeous, beautifully 
designed and printed, thorough. 
MINU5ES: Hard to find,, poorly 
distributed; needs a tall bookshelf 
"or large coffee table. 
VERDICT: Indispensable; unlike- 
ly to become extinct soon. 

Few volumes capture the excite- 



ment of dinosaurs and their 
world more beautifully than this 
one. Hundreds of dramatic paint- 
ings, drawings, and marvelous 
sculptures reveal not only the .ap- 
pearance of the dinosaurs, but al-' 
so their lush environments. 

That lustiness proved hospi- 
table to the creatures: Dinosaurs 
flourished for about 140 million 
years, making one wonder if that 
absolute newcomer, Homo sapi- 
ens, will last nearly as long. 

Authors Sylvia and Stephen 
Czerkas, along with their team of 
artists, bring to this book the pres- 



entation expertise and experi- 
ence that informs their dinosaur 
exhibitions and dioramas for mu- 
seums worldwide. Dinosaurs: A 
Global View, in fact,, may remind 
vol. of a wonds'iul dinosaur hall. 
a self-contained museum whose 
exhibits you can wander at will, 
whenever you want to, without be- 
ing distracted by other patrons. 
It may take some, effort to find 
this book, but the effort will be re- 
paid, For anyone who's regretted 
having limited mus.uem time, Di- 
nosaurs; A Global View is a vital 
volume, definitely a keeper. DO 







SUNDAY BEST: 

Protective wear for your day in the sun ' 

By Peter Callahan 



If a kid in Australia shows up at 
school without a hat," Harvey 
Schakowsky says knowingly, 
"they send him home." 

It's just the kind of tidbit that 
Schakowsky, 50, likes to share 
when discussing the importance 
of his new line of clothing that of- 
fers maximum protection from 
that growing menace called the 
sun. Made with a fabric dubbed 
Solarweave — consisting of a syn- 
thetically woven nylon treated 
with a patent-pending chemical 
substance — SPF Wear, accord- 
ing to Schakowsky, blocks out 99 
percent of ultraviolet B radiation 
and 93 percent of ultraviolet A 
rays. (A typical T-shirt, in contrast, 
is a veritable death suit, blocking 
a measly 50 percent of these 
cancerous rays.) 

Based in Chicago, Schakow- 
sky's Solar Protective Factory pro- 
duces shirts, shorts, jogging 
suits, French Foreign Legion- 
style hats, and other outdoor ap- 
parel, For now, Schakowsky is try- 
ing to keep things simple be- 
cause, he emphasizes, "I'm not 
a fashion designer." While some- 
day he'd like to introduce specif- 
ic lines for golfers, boaters, and 
gardeners, Schakowsky's starting 
with traditional Polo-type clothing 
in basic colors because people 
won't- buy a product "if it makes 
them look like a moron." 

While SPF Wear is not the only 
product on the market designed 
to block ultraviolet rays — 
Scottsdale-based Frogskin has 
been making protective clothing, 
mostly waterwear, for three 
years — Schakowsky claims it's t 
the only one both scientifically $ 
tested and light enough to be I 
practical for everyday summer : 
wear, "The question is, can 
you breathe in it?" 

Schakowsky knows that for : 
his product to compete with reg- 
ular clothing, it also has to be 
competitively priced. "People 



won't pay a premium for products 
that are protective, so it has to be 
affordable." Still, it bothers him 
that a consumer' might choose a 
nonprotective item over one that 
could save his or her life. "Why 
would anybody buy a regular hat 
that may let in 50 percent of the 
thing they know causes cancer 
when they could buy a $15 hat 
thai only allows in 1 percent?" 

All this talk about clothing and 
cancerous rays wouldn't have in- 
terested Schakowsky a few 
years ago. "If somebody told me 
I'd be selling hats that block ul- 
traviolet light, I would've said, 
'You're nuts.'" A native' of Chica- 
go, Schakowsky worked in the mar- 
keting of consumer electronics. 
' When a colleague developed 
skin cancer, Schakowsky be- 
came concerned. After his friend 
told him that one method of pre- 
vention was to wear protective 
clothing, Schakowsky asked 
"what I thought was a very straight- 
forward question — What is the def- 




inition of protective clothing? — 
and he didn't know. He asked his 
dermatologist and he didn't 
know. It kind of made me nuts." 

Back home in Chicago, 
Schakowsky began testing fab- 
rics to see what level of protec- 
tion they offered. Beginning with 
a traditional cotton T-shirt, 
Schakowsky was surprised to 
learn that it only blocked 50 per- 
cent of UVB rays. "At that point, 
lightbulbs went off. And I said, 
'Hey, why don't we try to devel- 
op a fabric that is comfortable 
and affordable and that we can 
treat in some fashion to block nine- 
ty-nine percent?'" 

And so a company was born. 

In the beginning, Schakowsky 
tried to do it all himself. "I 
thought I could design a shirt," he 
recalls. "I didn't realize that you 
can't use cotton thread on nylon, 
that there's a difference between 
a 1%-inch collar and a 1 s /a-inch 
collar." He brought in Terry 
Breese, a cofounder of Miller's Out- 
post, to' help with design. After a 
year and. a half of testing, they 
came up with Solarweave. 

Since then, they've contacted 
retailers and catalog companies 
and have established an 800 num- 
ber. They've received "thousands 
of calls," Schakowsky says, many 
from grateful customers who've 
long been searching for better 
means of protecting themselves 
from the sun. 

If Schakowsky had his wish, he 
says, all kids on Little League 
teams and at soccer camps 
would be protected by SPF 
Wear. He'd also like to see the 
day when all manufacturers tell 
people what level of protection 
their clothing offers. 

Schakowsky isn't interested in 
becoming just another fashion 
company trying to keep up with 
the latest trend. "What I don't 
want," Schakowsky says, "is to 
be in the fad business. "CXI 




Sun suits: These 
clothes keep 
cancer-causing 
ultraviolet A 
and B rays at bay. 




coruTiruuunn 

COLUMBUS 1 OTHER LEGACY: 

The explorer's first stop has become more Third World than New 

World. Plus, horses in shades, and straw in plastic 



Critics of current Columbus 
quincentenary celebrations, 
who cite the destruction of na- 
tive ecology and culture 
brought about by the influx 
of rapacious Europeans, 
need look no further for 
proof of their contentions 
than the sad example of San 
Salvador in the Bahamas — 
first landfall for Columbus on 
his epic voyage to the New 
World in 1492. 

One would have expect- 
ed San Salvador to have ben- 
efited substantially from the 
reverence befitting such an 
hi store landmark — especial 




San Salvador: 



ly in 500 years. Au contraire. The v 'si tor rrakhg a pilgrimage 
to discover San Salvador for the first time is in for a shock. 
What began as a wondrous revelation for Columbus and his 
crew has turned into a latter-day nightmare for this tiny coral- 
line limestone knoll and its peoples. 

San Salvador was once a beajt'ul, vcrcan: isle, covered 
in dense forest and :ee~irc with wildlife. Its cginal inhabi- 
tants, peaceful Lucayan Arawak ndians thai Columbus de- 
scribed as "friendly and well-dispositioned," were carried off 
to an early death working the Spanish gold mines in Haiti. 

San Salvador fared no better under its new colonial mas- 
ters, the British, who stripped the island of its protective for- 
ests to build ships and export the timber, and to plant cot- 
ton. This single act of environmental vandalism was disas- 
trous for the island and its new inhabitants, African slaves 
imported to work the plantations. Rapid soil erosion 
causec the crops lo fai . anc wher emanc paeon brought free- 
dom to the slaves in 1834, the British soon abandoned the 
island — although the Bahamas remained a British protector- 
ate until independence in 1973. 

Today, the island remains a barren wasteland covered 
with an impenetrable tangle of scrubby undergrowth and si- 
sal plants under a merciless sun. Its people live in abject pov- 
erty: Many are barefoot and raggedly dressed, live in shan- 
tytown dwellings, and eke out a dismal existence working 
small plotsor fishing. There is just one 24-room hotel on the 
island— although Club Med plans to open a new resort this 
month. San Salvador's "capital," Cockburn Town, is little 
more than a few sparse buildings, and the local economy 
is strictly Third World. 

What little chance the island had of earning tourist dollars 



was restricted for nearly two 
decades until the late 1960s 
because the presence of 
United States naval and mis- 
sile-tracking bases made 
the island off-limits to all ex- 
cept miiiiary personnel and 
local residents. The naval 
base is now a college for 
Americans studying environ- 
mental sciences; there are 
no Bahamian students. In- 
stead, locals perform the 
menial tasks at the college, 
one of the few career oppor- 
tunities on the island. 

Like the island's previous 
administrators, the Bahami- 
an government has done little to nurture the island's histori- 
cal legacy or stimulate its economy. Most of the meager land- 
marks and historical attractions — the stone cross erected at 
the spot where Columbus landed and the local museum — 
are the result of the tireless work of one woman, local Co- 
lumbus historian Ruth Wolper. 

Only now, in 1992, are the island's administrators hastily 
trying to estab-sri a few cieap :oun'st att 'actions to cash in 
on the quincentenary, including a Landfall Park, a replica of 
a Lucayan Indian village, another museum, and a craft mar- 
ket. For San Salvador, however, these measures will be no 
reversal of fortune. It is too little, too late. In short, the histo- 
ry and management c~ Sen Salvador are both a national and 
international disgrace. 

Perhaps the most sordid feature of this story was the sud- 
den and cursory inclusion of San Salvador in quincentenary 
celebrations. Three replica Spanish caravels, featured in the 
PBS series Columbus and the Age of Discovery, arrived in 
San Salvador on February 10 — with only a week's notice to 
historians, tourists, and the press. Apparently, some officials 
did not want a media circus descending on San Salvador, 
for it would surely expose the harsh reality of this forgotten 
island. In addition, the ships were anchored offshore for a 
mere four hours — compared to the two weeks that the 
ships spent at their next port of call, Miami, 

In October 1991, a caravel replica did call at the island for 
a day, commissioned and sailed by maverick Japanese film 
producer Haruki Kadokawa. A Columbus fanatic, Kadokawa's 
bid was to realize Columbus' dream of reaching the Orient 
by sailing to Japan va the Panama Canal. For San Salvador, 
however, it was simply small change.— STEPHEN MILLS 




CQfUTIfU 




Personality 'J supg, 1 '. san.. or cfrd=s:eroi 



ARE YOU A POTATO- 
CHIPS PERSON 
OR A HOT-FUDGE- 
SUNDAE PERSON? 

Real men don't eat quiche. 
But it is a potential winner 
with neurotic males who favor 
cholesterol-rich pleasures 
like French fries, hamburg- 
ers, or fatty steaks. Extrovert- 
ed women have a penchant 
for salty food, whereas their 
tough-minded sisters say 
"no" to salt yet are easy prey 
for a chocolate mousse or 
fudge torte. 



This news comes from 
Australian scientist Katrine 
Baghurst of the Common- 
wealth Scientific and Industri- 
al Research Organization's. 
Division of Human Nutrition'. 
Curious to find out why many 
people disregard messages 
from public health services 
about proper diet, she 
studied nearly 1 ,000 Auss-es 
in Perth, Brisbane, and 
Adelaide. With the help of 
University of Adelaide gradu- 
ate student Helen Falconer, 
she looked at their back- 
grounds, lifestyles, attitudes, 



and personalities, as well as 
their eating habits. 

The results were surpris- 
ing. "In some cases, 
personality is much more 
important than traditional 
indicators of dietary behavior 
like age, sex, or occupation," 
Baghurst says. 

The strongest association 
Bs.glu.-rst and Falconer found 
was between eating habits 
and a psychological variable 
called "locus of control." 
People with an "internal" 
locus of control feel they are 
masters of their destiny, 



whereas those with an 
"external" locus feel buffeted 
by fate. 

So what does this mean at 
the dinner table? Internally 
controlled types see the link 
between diet and well-being, 
Baghurst says. They eat 
more fiber than fatalistic 
people. Men with internal 
control keep down their 
cioles:e r ol intake; women, 
their 'sugar. 

The lesson for health 
experts, according to 
Baghurst, is that with 
health-promotion campaigns, 
one size does not fit all. "I 
think we've got to become a 
lot more like the commercial 
marketers and look for 
personality types when we 
design intervention pro- 
grams," Baghurst says. 
"We've got to borrow their 
tricks of the trade." 

—Leigh Dayton 

AND TO THE RIGHT 
OF THE AIRCRAFT 
IS A VORTEX . . . 

Airplane pilots usually deal 
easily witn turbulence and 
the occasional storm, but 
something that sounds 
relatively harmless can pose 
a real threat; vortices of 
swirling air. These areas of 
spiraling wind can throw 
aircraft violently out of 
control. Now engineers at 
Sundsirand in Rockford, 
Illinois, have devised a way 
not only to control these 
horizontal tornadoes but also 
to take advantage of their 
tremendous energy. 

"Wings are just about as 
good as they're going to 
get," says Sundstrand engi- 
neer David J. Linton. So 
instead of trying to alter wing 



THE AVERAGE HUMAN BREATHES 5,000 GALLONS 

OF AIR A DAY, WHICH COMES 

OUT TO 13 MILLION CUBIC FEET OF AIR A LIFETIME, 

THE WORLD'S OCEANS CONTAIN 

AROUND 496,370,000 CUBIC MILES OF WATER. 



design to dissipate potential- 
ly disastrous wind spirals, the 
company has turned to 
NASA technology developed 
in the Eighties, testing small 
turbines mounted on the 
trailing edges of the wingtips. 
"The turbine blades act as a 
flow straightener," Linton 
says. "They disrupt the 
formation of the spiraling 
vortices and convert it into 
random turbulent flow behind 
the airplane wing." 

The lightweight turbines, 
made of aluminum or 
graphite composites, are 
mounted parallel to the 
direction of flight and have 
cut drag by as much as 5.9 
percent in wind-tunnel tests 
and trials conducted with 
small, single-engine planes. 
That's no small achievement 
in a field where engineers 



count themselves lucky to 
reduce drag by tenths of a 
percent by reconfiguring 
wing design. 

While Sundstrand's tur- 
bines can be locked in place, 
Linton says allowing them to 
spin might yield a side 
benefit: Connecting them to 
electrical generators could 
harness the horsepower 
produced by the swirling 
vortices, If further tests on 
large aircraft, like Boeing 
737s, produce similar results, 
the turbines could eventually 
power electrical, pneumatic, 
and hydraulic systems. That 
might take another two years. 
— George Nobbe 



"There is no fortress 
so strong that 
money cannot take it. " 

—Cicero 




NASA technology 'r.&cs aircraft beat dangerous 



NEXT THEY'LL 
BE WEARING 
SUNGLASSES 

The next time you see a 
beautiful Arabian stallion 
prancing around a show 
arena, look closely at his 
eyes. The judges will be. 

In recent years, show- 
horse trainers have come up 
with a trick that can make a 
horse appear more alert 'and 
perky, qualities that judges 
reward: They fit the animals 
with contact lenses. But 
these lenses don't improve 
the horse's vision, instead, 
they act like sunglasses. A 
horse wearing them tends to 
raise his head and prick up 
his ears to discern what's 
going on around him, 
resulting in a wired, alert look 
that judges find fetching. 

Some horse lovers claim 
that the vision-obscuring 
lenses induce a kind of 
anxiety attack in the horse. 
Scott Bennett disagrees. The 
veio-'narian from Simpson- 
ville, Kentucky, has fit 
contact lenses on horses for 
the past eight years, and he 
says he hasn't had a single 
nega'.ive incident. "There's a 
lot of PR going around about 
how it blinds the horse, but 
that's not true," he says. 
Bennett argues that many 
horses turn photophobic, or 
sensitive to light, in brightly lit 
show arenas. Wearing con- 
tact lenses prevents the 
animals from squinting. 

The issue may be moot. 
Both the American Horse 
Shows Association and the 
American Quarter Horse 
Association have rules on 
their books that prohibit 
"artificial appliances" on a 
horse's eye — except on a 



blind or cosmetically unap- 
pealing eye. Neither organi- 
zation has disqualified a 
contestant for wearing con- 
tact lenses, although they've 
received complaints. 
Bennett makes the case 



lintcd comacis: ilishiy t^sine?;;;? 

that an "artificial appliance" 
could be interpreted to mean 
parts of a horse's bridle or 
even the rider. In any case, 
getting dark lenses isn't the 
worst thing that could 
happen to a horse, he 
confides. Some trainers put a 
hot spot of ginger on a 
horse's rectum to make his 
tail go up. — Roger Mummert 



RAIN IS GOOD FOR 
WICKER LAWN FURNI- 
TURE. WICKER LASTS 
LONGER IF IT GETS WET 
NOW AND THEN. 

MARRIED WOMEN ARE 
MORE LIKELY TO 
FOOL AROUND THAN 
MARRIED MEN. 




caruTiruuunji 



HOT CHOCOLATE 

Chocolate may never 
again melt in your hand 
instead of your mouth if 
Pennsylvania State University 
researchers have their way. 
They've isolated a compo- 
nent of- chocolate with a 
melting point significantly 
higher than the temperature 
at which the delicacy usually 
turns to a sticky mess. 

Cocoa butter, the most 
expensive and coveted 
edible fat in the world, 
normally has a melting point 
of about body temperature, 
explains Paul Dimick, pro- 
fessor of food science at the 
university. The butter, ex- 
tracted from the cocoa bean, 
gives chocolate its gloss, 
snap, hardness, and sensu- 
ous feel in the mouth. Mow, 
Dimick and his i 
students have identify 
cocoa- butter seed crystals 



with a '"cl-ir.g ooint of 158T. 

"For being one of life's 
simple pleasures, chocolate 
is anything but simple to 
manufacture," Dimick says. 
Problems range from the 
differing characteristics of 
cocoa beans grown in 
warmer and cooler climates 
to the uncertain "tempering" 
procedure that chocolate 
must undergo. During tem- 
pering, chocolate manufac- 
turers try to get a lot of small 
cocoa-butter crystals to form 
a stable solid, but finding and 
mainaning a temperature at 
which all the crystals will 
solidify poses considerable 
difi'if.i.t.ics. However, the 
heat-tolerant seed crystals 
studied by Dimick boast high 
concentrations of water- 
loving polar lipids, fats that 
affect the crystallization rate. 
In addition, Dimick hopes 
to apply his research to 
■"■s.ntaining the quality of 
filled candies, which current- 
have a shelf life of only 
three to four weeks. The 
candy fillings excrete 
fats that mix with the 
cocoa butter in the 
surrounding choco- 
late, and the cocoa 
butter breaks down 
and reforms. The 
unappetizing result is 
"bloom," which gives 
chocolate a dull, light- 
brown color and stale - 
taste. — Allan Maurer 

/( may soon be harder 
to make a gooey 

chocoiaio "riysi 



ly 




SPINNING STRAW 
INTO PLASTIC 

Auto manufacturers' 
make ear bumpers out of ' 
plastic, fiberglass, and. 
other' seemingly flimsy 
materials. They- .might as' ' 
well make them out of 
straw,, in the view- of some 
consumers. And they may 
sdoh do just that. : : 
■ ■ Researchers at the 
University. of North Wales 
have discovered a way to 
combine -straw -and plastics 
into, strong -composites: 
Normally, pulped straw— a- 
mulch' of- fibrous-cells— is of 
little bene.fitas a reinforce- 
ment for- plastics because 
its fibers swell on contact 
with water and because the 
straw fibers and plastic 
don't bond well. But when 
treated- with a chemical 
■known- as a di-functiona! 
reagent, the; cells- become 
water-resistant, strongly' 
bonding superfibers, says 
James Bolton, director of 
the university's biocompos- 
ites center. "By the time 



we've finished with our 
fibers-, we haveamore -■■ 
ra-acilvc sui fees; ".nan conven- 
tional glass or carbon. And 
.they can be produced for 
half the cost of glass and 
nearly a fortis:h the price of 
carbon fiber," he adds. As. 
an added advantage, the. ' 
energy content of compos- 
ites can eventually be 
recovered after repeated 
recycling. ■ 

To date, Bolton and his 
colle-ipues have found five 
valuable components !n 
.straw — long fibers, : short 

ccha- 
rides (a class of natural 
carbohydrates), and silica — 
all with potential 'industrial ■ 
app : (;■:-! I ions. They are now 
planning a pilot straw- 

::l ■ ■ I 'i ! !'l i Id extract 

these components. "If we 
can use plants and 
biofibers with the confi- 
dence and ingenuity we 
have applied to manmade 
materials," Bolton says, 
"then we have responded 
to a terrific challenge." 

— Ivor Smullen 




corirnruuunn 



.,■ 



V 



HIGH-TECH LULLABY 

When Roger Wannell's 
tape recorder malfunctioned, 
it began to produce unusual 
but rhythmic hisses similar to 
the sound of "snow" on a TV. 
To his astonishment, they 
sent his crying baby a 
persistent bawler, to sleep. 
Wannell, a British school- 
teacher, was in business. 
Now cassettes of the noises, 
which tests indicate can calm 
nine out of ten fretful and 
crying babies in around three 
and a half minutes, are being 
soid not only in Britain, but in 
Japan, where the cramped 
Jiving conditions in many 
cities can exacerbate baby 
problems, Wannell says. The 
British Technology Group 
has acquired the rights to 
license the Baby Soother and 
recently signed an agree- 
ment with Victor Musical 
Industries. 

"Research has shown that 

42 OMNI 



for ihe tape to be effective, a 
baby must be introduced to 
it before he or she is ten 
weeks old," says British 
Technology Group project 
manager Christi Mitchell. "It 
has complex sound patterns 
like those in a mother's womb 
and the human speaking 
voice." Mitchell emphasizes 
that the Baby Soother is not 
a substitute for the food, 
clean diaper, or medical 
attention that a crying baby 
might need. 

At Cry-sis, a help line for 
distraught parents of screech- 
ing babies, national coordi- 
nator June Jordan says the 
tape didn't work for her but 



IN OPEN SEAS, 

TSUNAMIS, ALSO CALLED 

TIDAL WAVES, 

CAN REACH SPEEDS 

EXCEEDING 

500 MILES PER HOUR. 

UNTIL 1 890, VATICAN 
CHOIRBOYS WERE 
CASTRATED TO KEEP 
THEIR VOICES 
FROM DEEPENING. 



admits it has done wonders 
for other families. Some 
mothers, she adds, swear by 
iheiranquilizing hum of a ■■ 
vacuum cleaner. 

The British Technology 
Group is still seeking a 
company to market the Baby 
Soother in the United 
States. — Ivor Smullen 



"The only thing God didn't 

do to Job was 

give him a computer. " 

—I. F. Stone 



FROM THE BEACH 
TO THE CAR 
WINDSHIELD 

Researchers at the 

University of Michigan have 
discovered a simple, inex- 
pensive method of convert- 
ing common beach sand 
into silicon-containing com- 
pounds that promise to 
have a variety of novel 
applications. Some of these 
compounds can be incor- 
porated into electrically 
conductive polymers that 
may eventually be used in 
such products as heatable 
car windshields, 

Some of the polymer 
derivatives developed by 
Richard Laine and his 
colleagues, including Chris- 
topher Viney at the 
University of Washington, 
act like the liquid crystals 
found in digital watches. 
Others decompose to 
ceramics- or glasses, sug- 
gesting use as fire 
retardants. These unusual 
properties appear to stem 
from the fact that the new 
compounds have five 



Be-;:::- s- 



chemical bonds to silico 
instead of the four found in 
most silicon polymers. 

"The conversion process 
is quite simple— you could 
do it in your garage," Laine 
says. He and his col- 
laborators substituted the 
silica and oxygen in silica 
sand for some of the 
feedstock compounds de- 
rived from crude oil, which 
creates the long chain of 
molecules that forms 50 
percent of the backbone of 
normal polymers. Their 
recipe calls for dissolving 
the sand in ethylene glycol 
and lye and heating it for 
several hours at 300-400T 
to break down the silica 
and remove water. The 
process results in a 
powdery, white, crystalline 
substance that. yields 
polymers that Laine be- 
lieves could be superior to 
some of the carbon- based 
materials now in use'. The 
process also consumes 
much less energy than the 
methods used to create 
similar compounds, he 
adds. — George Nobbe 



'dients for new polymers. 







GRAND 

TOUR 

DISASTER 

IN TIME 



/IDEO STORE 



treeTDSRR*h 



'>'_ 



O.DEMY 



I gi Earth Aslt Is 



In Heaven 




ARTICLE BY 

CARL SAGAN AND 

ANN DRUYAN 

For the forming of the 

earth they said 

"Earth." It arose suddenly, 

just like a cloud, 

like a mist, now forming, 

unfolding . . . 

Popol Vuh: The Mayan 
Book of the Dawn of Life 

PAINTING BY 

HELMUT WIMMER 



Nothing lives 
forever, in 
Heaven as it 
is on Earth. Even the 
stars grow old, decay, 
and die. They die, 
and they are born. 
There was once a 
time before the Sun 
and Earth existed, a 
time before there was 
day or night, long, 
long before there was 
anyone to record the 
Beginning for those 
who might come after. 

Nevertheless, imag- 
ine you were a 
witness to that time; 

An immense mass 
of gas and dust is 
swiftly collapsing un- 
der its own weight, 
spinning ever faster, 
transforming itself 
from a turbulent, 
chaotic cloud into 
what seems to be a 
distinct, orderly, thin 
disk. Its exact center 
smolders a dull, cher- 
ry red. Watch from on 
high, above the disk, 
for a hundred million 
years and you will see 
the central mass grow 
whiter and more 
brilliant, until, after a 
couple of abortive 



and incomplete at- 
tempts, it bursts into 
radiance, a sustained 
thermonuclear fire. 
The Sun is born. 
Faithfully, it will shine 
over the next 5 billion 
years — when the mat- 
ter in the disk will 
have evolved into 
beings able to recon- 
struct the circum- 
stances of Its origin, 
and theirs. 

Only the innermost 
provinces of the disk 
are illuminated. Far- 
ther out, the sunlight 
fails to penetrate. You 
plunge into the re- 
cesses of the cloud to 
see what wonders are 
uniolding. You dis- 
cover a million small 
worlds milling about 
the great central fire. 
A few thousand siza- 
ble ones here and 
there, most circling 
near the Sun but 
some at great distanc- 
es away, are destined 
to find each other, 
merge, and become 



the Earth. 

This spinning disk 
out of which worlds 
are forming has fallen 
together from the 
sparse matter that 
punctuates a vast 
region of interstellar 
vacuum within the 
Milky Way Galaxy. 
The atoms and grains 
that make it up are the 
flotsam and jetsam of 
galactic evolution — 
here, an oxygen atom 
generated from heli- 
um in the interior 
inferno of some long- 
dead red giant star; 
there, a carbon atom 
expelled from the 
atmosphere of a 
carbon-rich star in 
some quite different 
galactic sector; and 
now an iron atom 
freed for world- 
making by a mighty 
supernova explosion 
in the still more 
ancient past. Five 
billion years after the 
events we are describ- 
ing, these very atoms 
may be coursing 
through your blood- 
stream. 

Our story begins 
here in the dark, 
pullulating, dimly illumi- 
nated disk: the story 
as it actually turned 
out, and an enormous 
number of other sto- 
ries that would have 
come to be had 
things gone just a little 



differently; the story of 
our world and spe- 
cies, but also the 
story of many other 
worlds and lifeforms 
destined never to be. 
The disk is rippling 
with possible futures. 

For most of their 
lives, stars shine by 
transmuting hydrogen 
into helium. It hap- 
pens at enormous 
pressures and tem- 
peratures deep inside 
them. Stars have 
been aborning in the 
Milky Way Galaxy for 
10 billion years or 
more — within great 
clouds of gas and 
dust. Almost all the 
placenta of gas and 
dust that once sur- 
rounded and nour- 
ished a star is quickly 
lost, either devoured 
by its tenant or 
spewed back into 
interstellar space, 
When they are a little 



older — but we are still 

talking about the 
childhood of the 
stars — a massive disk 
of gas and dust can 
be discerned, the 
inner lanes circling 
the star swiftly, the 
outer ones moving 
more stately and 
slowly. Similar disks 
are detectable around 
stars barely out of 
their adolescence, but 
now only as thin 
remnants of their 
former selves — mostly 
dust with almost no 
gas, every grain of 
dust a miniature plan- 
et orbiting the central 
star. In some of them, 
dark lanes, free of 
dust, can be made 
out. Perhaps half the 
young stars in the sky 
that are about as 
massive as the Sun 
have such disks. Still 
older stars have noth- 
ing of the sort, or at 
least nothing that we 
are yet able to detect. 
Our own solar system 
to this day retains a 
very diffuse band of '- 
dust, orbiting the Sun, 
called the zodiacal 
cloud, a wispy re- 
make of the great disk 
from which the plan- 
ets were born. 

The story these 
observations are tell- 
ing us is this; Stars 
formed in batches 



from huge clouds of 
gas and dust. A 
dense clump of materi- 
al attracts adjacent 
gas and dust, grows 
larger and more mas- 
sive, more efficiently 
draws matter to it, and 
is off on its way to 
stardom. When the 
temperatures and pres- 
sures in its interior 
become high enough, 
hydrogen atoms — the 
most abundant materi- 
al in the Universe by 
far — are jammed 
together and ther- 
monuclear reactions 
are initiated. When it 
happens on a large 
enough scale, the star 
turns on and the 
nearby darkness is 
dispelled. Matter is 
turned into light. 
The collapsing 
cloud spins up, squash- 
es down into a disk, 
and lumps of matter 
aggregate together — 
successively the size 
of smoke particles, 
sand grains, rocks, 
boulders, mountains, 
and worldlets. Then 
the cloud tidies itself 



up through the simple 
expedient of the 
largest objects 
gravitational ly consum- 
ing the debris. The 
dust-free lanes are 
the feeding zones of 
yo.ung planets. As the 
central star begins to 
shine, it also sends 
forth great gales of 
hydrogen that blow 
grains back into the 
void. Perhaps some 
other system of 
worlds, fated to arise 
billions of years later 
in some distant prov- 
ince of the Milky Way, 
will put these rejected 
building blocks to 
good use. 

In the disks of gas 
and dust that sur- 
round many nearby 
stars, we think we see 
the nurseries in which 
other worlds, far-off 
and exotic, are 
accumulating and coa- 
lescing. All over our 
galaxy, vast, irregular, 
lumpy, pitch-black, 
interstellar clouds are 
collapsing under their 
own gravity, and 
spawning stars and 
planets. It happens 
about once a month. 
In the observable 
Universe — containing 
as many as a hundred 
billion galaxies — per- 



haps a hundred solar 
systems are forming 
every second. In that 
multitude of worlds, 
many will be barren 
and desolate. Others 
may be lush and 
fertile, on which be- 
ings exquisitely adapt- 
ed to their several 
circumstances are 
growing up, coming 
of age, and attempt- 
ing to piece together 
their beginnings. The 
Universe is lavish 
beyond imagining. 

As the dust settles 
and the disk thins, 
you can now make 
out what is happening 
down there. Hurtling 
about the Sun is a 
vast array of world- 
lets, all in slightly 
different orbits. Pa- 
tiently you watch. 
Ages pass. With so 
many bodies moving 
so quickly, it is only a 
matter of time before 



worlds collide. As you look more 
closely, you can see collisions occur- 
ring almost everywhere. The Solar Sys- 
tem begins amid almost unimaginable 
violence. Sometimes the collision is 
fast and head-on, and a devastating, al- 
though silent,, explosion leaves nothing 
but shards and fragments. At other 
times— when two worldlets are in near- 
ly identical orbits with nearly identical 
speeds — the collisions are nudging, gen- 
tle; the bodies stick together, and a big- 
ger, double worldlet emerges. 

In another age or two, you notice 
that several much larger bodies are 
growing — worlds that, by luck, escaped 
a disintegrating collision in their early, 
more vulnerable days. Such bodies — 
each established in its own feeding 
zone — plow through the smaller world- 
lets and gobble them up. They have 
grown so large that their gravity has 
crushed out the irregularities; these big- 
ger worlds are nearly perfect spheres. 
When a worldlet approaches a more 
massive body, although not close 
enough to collide, it swerves; its orbit 
is changed. On its new trajectory, it may 
impact some other body, perhaps 
smashing it to smithereens; or meet a 
fiery death as it falls into the young Sun, 
which is consuming the matter in its vi- 
cinity; or be gravitationally ejected into 



frigid interstellar dark. Only a few are 
in fortunate orbits, neither eaten, nor 
pulverized, nor fried, nor exiled. They 
continue to grow. 

Beyond a certain mass, the bigger 
worlds are attracting not just dust, but 
great streams of interplanetary gas as 
well, You watch them develop, eventu- 
ally each with a vast atmosphere of 
hydrogen and helium gas surrounding 
a core of rock and metal, They become 
the four giant planets, Jupiter, Saturn, 
Uranus, and Neptune. You can see the 
characteristic banded cloud patterns 
emerge. Collisions of comets with their 
moons splay out elegant, patterned, ir- 
idescent, ephemeral rings. Pieces of an 
exploded world fall back together, 
generating a jumbled, odd-lot, motley 
new moon. As you watch, an Earth- 
sized body plows into Uranus, knock- 
ing the planet over on its side, so once 
each orbit its poles point straight at the 
distant Sun. 

Closer in, where the disk gas has by 
now been cleaned away, some of the 
worlds are becoming Earth-like planets, 
another class of survivors in this game 
of world-annihilating gravitational rou- 
lette. The final accumulation of the ter- 
restrial planets takes no more than 100 
million years, about as long compared 
to the lifespan of the Solar System as 




the first nine months is relative to the 
lifetime of an average human being. A 
doughnut-shaped zone of millions of 
rocky, metallic and organic worldlets, 
the asteroid belt, survives. Trillions of icy 
worldlets, the comets, slowly orbit the 
Sun in the darkness beyond the outer- 
most planet. 

The principal bodies of the Solar Sys- 
tem have now formed. Sunlight pours 
through a transparent, nearly dust-free 
interplanetary space, warming and illu- 
minating the worlds. They continue to 
course and careen about the Sun. But 
look more closely still and you can 
make out that further change is being 
worked. 

None of these worlds, you remind 
yourself, has volition; none intends to be 
in a particular orbit. But those that are 
on well-behaved, circular orbits tend to 
grow and prosper, while those on gid- 
dy, wild, eccentric, or recklessly tilted 
orbits tend to be removed. As time 
goes on, the confusion and chaos of 
the early Solar System slowly settle 
down into a steadily more orderly, sim- 
ple, regularly- spaced, and, to your 
eyes, increasingly beautiful set of tra- 
jectories. Some bodies are selected to 
survive, others to be annihilated or ex- 
iled. This selection of worlds occurs 
through the operation of a few extreme- 
ly simple laws of motion and gravity. De- 
spite the good-neighbor policy of the 
well-mannered _worlds, you can occa- 
sionally make out a flagrant rogue world- 
let on collision trajectory. Even a body 
with the most circumspect circular or- 
bit has no warrantee against utter an- 
nihilation. To survive, an Earth-like 
world must also continue to be lucky. 

The role of something close to ran- 
dom chance in all this is striking. 
Which worldlet will be shattered or eject- 
ed, and which will safely grow to plan- 
ethood, is not obvious. There are so 
many objects in so complicated a set 
of mutual interactions that it is very 
hard to tell — just by looking at the ini- 
tial configuration of gas and dust, or 
even after the planets have mainly 
formed — what the final distribution of 
worlds will be. Perhaps some other, suf- 
ficiently advanced observer could fig- 
ure it out and predict its future — or even 
set it all in motion so that, billions of 
years later, through some intricate and 
subtle sequence of processes, a de- 
sired outcome will slowly emerge. But 
that is not yet for humans. 

You started with a chaotic, irregular 
cloud of gas and dust, tumbling and con- 
tracting in the interstellar night. You end- 
ed with an elegant, jewel-like solar sys- 
tem, brightly illuminated, the individual 
planets neatly spaced out one from an- 
other, everything running like clockwork. 



It's time to take the next step, 




Exploration has always opened avenues of 
commerce for humanity. In the future, these 
avenues will stretch from the highlands of the 
Moon, to the plains of Mars. 

First, pathways are mapped. Then, outposts 
are established that are followed by a natural 
migration where settlements become the 



building blocks of an expanding economy. Our 
international neighbors understand this well. 
Today, more than a dozen countries are investing 
in space exploration, fully aware of the future 
economic dividends. 

America could lead the general dynamics 

way again, if we act nOW. Space Systems Division 



DON'T JUST QUALIFY, 
QUANTIFY. 

SLAM SOME HOOP. 

SPIKE THE NET. 

SMACK IT OUT OF THE PARK. 

FROM THIS MOMENT ON, 

ANYTHING GOES. 

RULING OUT BADMINTON, 

THE CHOICE OF GAME IS YOURS. 




DAVID ROBINSON 
WEARS CASIO 



The planets are nicely separated, you 
realize, because those that aren't are 
gone. 

It's easy to see why some of those 
early physicists who first penetrated the 
reality of the nonintersecting, coplanar 
orbits of the planets thought that the 
hand of a Creator was discernible. 
They were unable to conceive of any 
alternative hypothesis that could ac- 
count for such magnificent precision 
and order. But in the light of modern 
understanding, there is no sign of di- 
vine guidance here, or at least nothing 
beyond physics and chemistry. Instead 
we see evidence of a lime of remorse- 
less and sustained violence, when vast- 
ly more worlds were destroyed than pre- 
served. Today we understand some- 
thing of how the exquisite precision that 
the Solar System now exhibits was ex- 
tracted from the disorder of an evolv- 
ing interstellar cloud by laws of nature 
that we are able to grasp— motion, and 
gravitation, and fluid dynamics, and 
physical chemistry. The continued op- 
eration of a mindless selective process 
can convert chaos into order. 

Our Earth was born in such circum- 
stances about 4.5 or 4.6 billion years 
ago, a little world of rock and metal, 
third from the Sun. But we mustn't 
think of it as placidly emerging into sun- 
light from its catastrophic origins. 
There was no moment in which colli- 
sions of small worlds with the Earth 
ceased entirely. Even today objects 
from space run into the Earth or the 
Earth overtakes them. Our planet dis- 
plays unmistakable impact scars from 
recent collisions with asteroids and com- 
ets. But the Earth has machinery that 
fills in or covers over these blemishes — 
running water, lava flows, mountain build- 
ing, plate tectonics. The very ancient cra- 
ters have vanished. The Moon, 
though, wears no makeup. When we 
look there, or to the Southern Highlands 
of Mars, or to the moons of the outer 
planets, we find a myriad of impact cra- 
ters, piled one on top of the other, the 
record of catastrophes of ages past. 
Since we humans have returned piec- 
es of the Moon to the Earth and deter- 
mined their antiquity, it is now possible 
to reconstruct the chronology of craler- 
ing and glimpse the collisional drama 
that once sculpted the Solar System. 
Not just occasional small impacts, but 
massive, stupefying, apocalyptic colli- 
sions is the inescapable conclusion 
from the record preserved on the sur- 
faces of nearby worlds. 

By now, in the Sun's middle age, 
this part of the Solar System has been 
swept free of almost all the rogue world- 
lets. There is a handful of small aster- 
oids that come near the Earth, but the 



chance that any of the bigger ones will 
hit our planet soon is small. A few com- 
ets visit our part of the Solar System 
from their far distant homeland. Out 
there, they are occasionally jostled by 
a passing star or a nearby, massive in- 
terstellar cloud, and a shower of icy 
worldlets comes careening into the in- 
ner Solar System. These days, though, 
big comets hit the Earth very rarely. 

It is very easy to think of us as isolat- 
ed from the Cosmos, a self-sufficient 
world minding its own business. In 
fact, the history and fate of our planet 
and the beings upon it have been pro- 
foundly, crucially influenced, through 
the whole history of the Earth and not 
just in the time of its origins, by what's 
out there. Our oceans, our climate, the 
building blocks of life, biological muta- 
tion, the massive extinctions of species, 
the pace and timing of the evolution of 
life, all cannot be understood if we imag- 
ine the Earth hermetically sealed from 
the rest of the Universe, with only a lit- 
tle sunlight trickling in from the outside. 

The matter that makes up our world 
came together in the skies Enormous 
quantities of organic matter fell to 
Earth, or were generated by sunlight, 
setting the stage for the origin of life. 
Once begun, life mutated and adapt- 
ed to a changing environment, partial- 
ly driven by radiation and collisions 
from outside. Today, nearly all life on 
Earth runs off energy harvested from 
the nearest star. 

Out there and down here are not sep- 
arate compartments. Indeed, every at- 
om that is down here was once out 
there. Not all of our ancestors made the 
same sharp distinction we do between 
the Earth and the sky. Some recognized 
the connection. The grandparents of 
the Olympian gods, and therefore the 
ancestors of humans were, in the 
myths of the ancient Greeks, Uranus, 
god of the sky, and his wife Gaia, god- 
dess of the Earth. Ancient Mesopotami- 
an religions had the same idea. In dy- 
nastic Egypt the gender roles were re- 
versed: Nut was goddess of the sky, 
and Geb god of Earth. The chief gods 
of the Konyak Nagas on the Himalayan 
frontier of India today are called Ga- 
wang, "Earth-Sky," and Zangban, "Sky- 
Earth." The Quiche Maya (of what is 
now Mexico and Guatemala) called the 
Universe cahuteu, literally "Sky-Earth." 

That's where we live. That's where we 
come from. The sky and the Earth are 
one. DO 

This article is adopted from the book 
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: A 
Search for Who We Are, by Carl Sagan 
and Ann Druyan ($23.00, 528 pages), 
published by Random House. 



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Designing aliens and alien cultures is 
easy. It can even be profitable. Look at 
ETor the barroom scene in Star Wars. 
Nothing to it. Tack some funny append- 
ages on a basically human form, paint 
the creature an unusual but not unap- 
pealing color; and go. Simple, right? 

Designing aliens and their cultures rig- 
orously, though, building their worlds ac- 
cording to scientific rules, carefully and 
logically extrapolating extraterrestrial ev- 
olution and cultural development, cre- 
ating an alien species that is believa- 
ble and self-consistent, that's a differ- 
ent' matter. That's hard. 

It's also a great deal of fun. 

At first glance the Palo Alto Holiday 
Inn seems an unlikely, if attractive, lo- 
cation for an encounter with an extra- 
terrestrial intelligence. California hills in 
trie background, Stanford University 
just around the corner, fast-food neon 
signs, movie theaters; We're on Earth, 
American sector. 

Yet this is indeed the spot where con- 
tact will be made. To be more precise, 
this is the spot where this year's CON- 
TACT will be held. 

The cast of characters is large, com- 
posed of anthropologists, science-fic- 
tion writers, engineers, linguists, com- 
puter programmers, psychologists, and 
interested amateurs from' various pro- 
fessions. CONTACT itself combines as- 
pects of role-playing simulations, debat- 
ing societies, classroom exercises, and 
bull sessions, all devoted to, among oth- 
er things, the construction and contem- 
plation of believable alien cultures. 

CONTACT is the brainchild of artist 
and computer wizard Joel Hagen, and 
Jim Funaro, instructor of Anthropology 
at Cabrillo College. Over the nine 
years since the creation of the confer- 
ence, Hagen and Funaro have seen 
their offspring evolve into a freewheel- 
ing get-together of disparate individu- 
als with similar interests. 

Understand: This is a serious thought 
experiment. (Science-fiction writer and 
CONTACT board member Poul Ander- 
son offers a definition of thought exper- 
iment: "We didn't get the grant.") The 
star system, planet, and biosphere cho- 
sen for the ETs behave according to the 
framework of astrophysical, planetary, 
and biological sciences. No wish fulfill- 
ment here: Biology and biochemistry 

The aliens depicted on this article's 
opening pages are based on species 
created at CONTACT by Karen Ander- 
son, Poul Anderson, John Barnes, 
Scott Beach, Paula Butler, Jack Cohen, 
Dick Coss, John Cramer, Ctein, Alan 
Elms, Jane Frank, Jim Funaro, Joel 
Hagen, Al Harrison, Marghe McMahon, 
and William Street. 

52 OMNI 



flow from planetary physics and geolo- 
gy, with no convenient shortcuts. 

CONTACT revolves around two 
poles: Cultures of the Imagination (CO- 
Tl), a role-playing simulation whose 
participants create alien species, and 
the Bateson Project, the professional 
track. COTI is open to anyone attend- 
ing CONTACT; participation in the Bate- 
son Project is by invitation. 

CONTACT'S centerpiece, the Bate- 
son Project is a nod in the direction of 
the late anthropologist Gregory Bate- 
son, who devoted his life to drawing to- 
gether insights from disparate fields, all 
aimed at the same questions: What is 
intelligence? What is culture? 

Bateson participants have in past 
years addressed questions of interstel- 
lar migration, colonization of other 
worlds, cultural dynamics of space col- 
onies, and other large questions, all 
from generalist perspectives that com- 



tCareful consideration 
of the alien 
planet's physical characteris- 
tics plays an 
important part in designing 

believable, 

self-consistent inhabitants 

for the world. 3 



bine the hard and soft sciences, as 
well as occasional touches of poetry or 
whimsy. In Palo Alto, Bateson partici- 
pants return to original CONTACT con- 
cerns: the composition and transmis- 
sion of a message from an extraterres- 
trial civilization, a simulated SETI 
(Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) 
exercise. The message will be "re- 
ceived" at some point early in the con- 
ference; the remainder of the Bateson 
effort will be devoted to decoding and 
interpreting it. 

In addition to the Bateson Project 
and COTI, CONTACT boasts art 
shows, formal presentation of papers, 
lectures, computer demonstrations, a sci- 
ence-fiction musical by James Lee Stan- 
ley, beer bashes, and workshops ad- 
dressing particular aspects of the cen- 
tral question of extraterrestrial life. The 
weekend is filled with talk; there's lots 
of laughter and in-jokes. CONTACT vet- 
erans work hard to make novices feel 
at home both with the group and with the 
concepts that are being tossed about. 

Many of the novices sign up for the 



current COTI exercise. There are two CO- 
TI teams, whose leaders are anthropolo- 
gist and writer Dirk van der Elst, and an- 
thropology student and gamer Israel 
Zuckerman. Both are CONTACT veter- 
ans, eager to see where COTI will take 
than i'his time. 

COTI offers the chance to participate 
in the creation and evolution of other ali- 
en species, and to nurture offspring 
from "ur-critters" to star travelers. COTI 
teams face, in essence, a tabula rasa: 
They have their environments, and now 
they must draw their creatures in the en- 
vironmental clay. COTI is the real "How 
to Build an Alien" seminar, more of a 
free-for-all than the more refined arena 
of the Bateson Project. 

Unlike previous COTIs, which in- 
volved human/alien encounters with 
groups of players assuming the roles of 
each species, this year's exercise will 
deal exclusively with extraterrestrials. 
Two alien species will be created, 
evolved, guided into space, and intro- 
duced to each other before CONTACT 
ends. Each COTI group will design its 
species to suit'planetary specifications 
developed beforehand. At various 
points throughout the weekend, COTI 
teams' progress reports will be present- 
ed to the rest of the conference. The re- 
ports-will be made separately, to keep 
the groups in the dark as to what their 
counterpart species is up to. 

Van der Elst and Zuckerman's COTI 
groups each consist of eight to ten mem- 
bers. On the first day of the conference, 
the leaders present the planetary char- 
acteristics and set their teams free to 
design and evolve an alien culture that 
could thrive there, achieving a level of 
technology high enough to make 
space travel possible. 

"Set free" is less than accurate: CO- 
TI world building proceeds under rig- 
orous, if occasionally relaxed, rules. "CO- 
TI can start either with the world or 
with aliens for which you have to design 
a world," says Zuckerman. There may 
be physical characteristics — flight, inter- 
species symbiosis, and so on — that a 
COTI group wishes to explore. In such 
cases, a world must be designed to 
suit the desired inhabitants. 

Either way, there are certain conven- 
tions to be followed, or at least attend- 
ed to. Leaders serve more as modera- 
tors than as teachers or critics. "Our 
job," says van der Elst, "is to force our 
teams to look at what they are doing, 
to get them to lift themselves out of 
their cultural framework and come up 
with something new." 

Zuckerman and van der Elst start 
with ready-made worlds, Zuckerman's 
group facing a heavy gravity planet 
with a dense atmosphere. The planet, 



Ophelia — designed for an earlier CON- 
TACT by science-fiction writers Poul An- 
derson, C. J. Cherryh, and Larry Niven — 
orbits Hamlet, a star whose F5 spectral 
classification makes it larger and 
about five times more luminous than our 
own Sol. Ophelia's orbit, though, lies 
much farther from its primary than 
Earth from the sun: Ophelia basks in on- 
ly about half the irradiation our planet 
receives, with more ultraviolet and less 
infrared. Ophelia's surface gravity is 
about a Ihird again that of Earth, its at- 
mosphere more dense. These and oth- 
er planetary characteristics, spelled out 
in far greater detail in briefing papers, 
affect every aspect of the COTI aliens. 

"We placed our species at the bot- 
tom of the atmospheric well," Zucker- 
man says, "assuming that it evolved in 
a tidal zone." From that beginning, the 
team's challenge was to create a be- 
lievable species capable of spaceflight 
and, ultimately, interstellar exploration. 
Zuckerman recalls the intensity of the 
first day's work. "We have a pre-sentient 
creature; we understand some of the en- 
vironmental pressures it faces; we've 
got a sense of its basic sensory appa- 
ratus and feeding strategies. Other 
than that — who knows? That's where 
the fun begins." 

Because Zuckerman's team felt that 
the visible light levels on Ophelia miti- 
gated against sight as a primary sen- 
sory medium, they chose to provide 
their beings with an echo-location ca- 
pability. The creatures "see" by hear- 
ing signals from the outer world. In the 
predator/prey cycle, they are definitely 
prey, and are thus cautious: "They 
hear signals, but they don't emit 
them," Zuckerman says. 

Each supposition serves as a hook 
on which .the next development will be 
hung. There are pitfalls to the process — 
traps that, as team leader, Zuckerman 
attempts to avoid. 

"There's a tendency to want to 
make your aliens really neat," he says, 
"to hang too many bells and whistles 
on them. You have to be careful about 
this. If something is too specialized, too 
good at what it does, you lose the rea- 
sons for it to evolve. A shark is a shark: 
Sharks are so good at what they do, 
there are not many pressures for them 
to do anything else. Problems are what 
create the opportunity for evolution." 

COTI is all about evolution, Zucker- 
man feels. "We give our participants the 
chance to think critically and realistical- 
ly about the subject of evolution." 

Evolution proceeds apace on the oth- 
er COTI world as well. Van der Elst's 
creatures are more recognizably "Earth- 
like" than Zuckerman's, perhaps be- 
cause the planet his team was given is 

56 OMNI 



more terrestrial in nature. Their planet 
is in many ways a clone of earth. The 
van der Elst team arrives at a tree- 
dwelling marsupial with grasping dig- 
its and sensitive ears. Referred to at 
first as "elephant squirrels," they quick- 
ly become known as the "Elvi," in hon- 
or of a certain, occasionally elephant- 
sized singer from Memphis. 

Where the Ophelia group focuses on" 
physiology and environment, the van 
der Elst team spends much of its time 
on questions of social structure and or- 
ganization. Gender imbalances lead to 
ritual male infanticide. Grooming plays 
a large part in communication, it is un- 
clear how the Elvi will develop a high 
level of technology. 

Even as the COTI aliens take shape, 
the Bateson Project gets under way. A 
digital message is sent Earthward 
from another star. There's intelligent 
life out there: Will we prove intelligent 



iCan a 
culture evolve a high 

level of 
technology, including 

space 

travel, without warfare 

as a 

motivating factor?^ 



enough to interpret the message? 

To send a message, you've got to 
have a sender, and over the course of 
the past year, the Bateson Project's ali- 
en team has worked together to design 
a planet under the tutelage of master 
world builder Poul Anderson. The 
world's topography comes to comput- 
erized fractal life via Joel Hagen's skill 
on the Amiga computer. The planet's in- 
habitants and language have been 
shaped by the fine hand of linguist Kar- 
en Anderson, Their appearance has 
been made tangible by sculptor 
Marghe McMahon. Other participants 
include CONTACT maestro Funaro, pho- 
tographer and artist Ctein, psychobiogra- 
pher Alan Elms, and a host of profes- 
sional and amateur life shapers. A lot 
of work and a lot of love go into the 
Bateson Project, and, as revealed over 
the weekend, it shows. 

While the COTI groups make daily 
presentations detailing their progress, 
the Bateson Project holds the interest 
of CONTACT attendees in more dramat- 
ic fashion, through a series of simulat- 



ed press conferences detailing the re- 
ception and attempted translation of a 
message from another world. Bateson 
project participants assume the roles of 
television reporters, commentators, and 
government officials, including the pres- 
ident of the United States., 

The message arrives early in the con- 
ference. According to "official govern- 
ment releases," the message was inter- 
cepted by SETI antennae. Actually, it 
was delivered on disk from one suite in 
the Holiday Inn to another. A presiden- 
tial press conference — the first of 
many — is announced. 

The press conferences create a star- 
tling degree of verisimilitude. Everyone 
here wants so deeply to make an actu- 
al contact that we fall easily Into our 
roles, becoming the international audi- 
ence, glued to our televisions, hungry 
for news of the momentous event. 

The president appears nervous and 
excited as he announces, "We are not 
alone." In typical presidential fashion, 
he offers a few bromides: "There's no 
need for alarm," then passes the micro- 
phone to other Bateson- project role play- 
ers who represent the secretaries of 
state, defense, and HHS, the UN am- 
bassador, the head of NASA, and oth- 
er prominent officials. Their purpose is 
to further extend the Project's verisimil- 
itude. We are told of increases in UFO 
sightings, some instances of "domes- 
tic turbulence, ".responses from reli- 
gious leaders, and other extrapolative 
concrete details that contribute mighti- 
ly to the sense of an unfolding global 
drama. Some barbs are tossed at reli- 
gious fundamentalists and the tabloid 
press, whose reactions are humorous- 
ly related. 

The alien message was received at 
antennae across the globe, we are 
told. It has arrived from the general di- 
rection of Alpha Centauri, or from a ve- 
hicle headed toward earth from that di- 
rection. The message itself is believed 
to be a black body temperature curve 
implying a G-type star as the primary 
of its senders' home system. Everything 
else about the signal and its compos- 
ers is under debate. Further briefings 
will be held as additional information be- 
comes available. 

The aliens' solar system is located in 
a distant quadrant of the Holiday Inn. 
Their home planet, a hotel suite, is 
filled with computers, reference 
books, pages of jotted notes and draw- 
ings, even a few bags of munchies. 

Overseeing it all is Karen Anderson, 
who displays enormous vigor and en- 
thusiasm despite occasional spasms of 
all but crippling arthritis. She is articu- 
late about the intellectual challenges fac- 
ing alien builders. "You've got to be 



able to think yourself onto their planet," 
she says. That means assimilating all of 
the relevant physical data— gravity, ' 
light levels, weather, plant life— and rig- 
orously imagining their effect on the ali- 
ens and the alien culture. 

Perhaps most important, she feels, is 
freeing oneself from traditional Indo- 
European thought patterns. "It's bad 
enough to end up with aliens that are 
just human beings wearing funny 
masks," she says. It's inexcusable to 
end up with aliens that are essentially 
Westerners wearing funny masks. 

To avoid such missteps, the Bateson 
Project's alien team met at roughly one- 
month intervals throughout the year pre- 
ceding CONTACT, constantly refining 
and clarifying their aliens. The hand of 
Poul Anderson, perhaps science fic- 
tion's finest creator of truly alien ecolo- 
gies and species, can be felt through- 
out the alien team's briefing materials. 
Anderson is rightly celebrated for work- 
ing out alien ecologies down to the 
names, appearances, and even 
scents of flowers, then building cultures 
out of those details. 

This year, for the first time, the Bate- 
son Project is taking place online as 
well as at the physical CONTACT con- 
ference. Via InterNet, electronic partic- 
ipants around the world can "listen in" 
on CONTACT proceedings and offer 
commentary and dissent. 

By the second day of CONTACT, the 
COTI teams are busily shoving their spe- 
cies up the evolutionary ladder. In CO- 
TI, as on earth, cultural ascent doesn't 
occur without occasional contretemps. 
Dirk van der Elst's team eliminated 
warfare from the Elvi's culture repertoire 
and at least temporarily eliminated 
calm from van der Elst's demeanor. 

"I came unglued," the anthropologist 
says. "Warfare in every cultural line has 
always been a motivator leading to cul- 
tural change. If you do away with war, 
what do you have to drive the species 
up the technological ladder and into out- 
er space?" 

For the Elvi, the motivator became 
population pressure, a conclusion he 
views with some suspicion. Still, a CO- 
TI leader's role is moderator, not arbi- 
ter. It was, finally, overpopulation that 
drove the Elvi spaceward. 

Israel Zuckerman and crew worked 
out some very unusual approaches to 
cultural evolution. Their challenge, to 
get their echo-locating, preyed-upon 
creatures to an industrial level imposed 
some biological assumptions. 

"We gave our creatures a weak 
sense of magnetic orientation," he 
says, "stronger than in people, yet not 
as strong as in fish or birds. There was ' 
a push-pull aspect to this. 



"On the push side, we were desper- 
ate to get from a noncompetitive soci- 
ety to industrial and then spaceflight lev- 
els. It struck us that by having our crea- 
tures learn to recognize magnetic fields, 
we'd have a useful hook for pushing 
them toward an industrial society." 

And on the pull side? "We wanted to 
have some fun," Zuckerman says. "The 
creatures' first use of magnetism is to 
get drunk on it. Their first electromag- 
netic machines serve as consciousness- 
altering devices. It was practical in our 
context, but it was also fun to design." 

He considers this good advice for po- 
tential COTI players. "Go with what's fun 
for your creatures, as long as the fun 
falls within the rules of the game." 

A final Bateson project press confer- 
ence is held on Sunday morning. At 
last, to applause and gasps, the alien 
is unveiled in the form of a beautiful stat- 
ue by Marghe McMahon. (For a 
glimpse of this year's Bateson alien, 
look at the opening spread of this arti- 
cle. "Homer," as he came to be 
known, is the tall one with four arms and 
a beak.) 

The debate and role playing that sur- 
rounds the message from Homer's 
home world has proved so stimulating 
that it is agreed that no further details 
will be revealed. Further messages will be 
transmitted for decoding next year. The 
Bateson Project has been a success. 

The COTI finale comes on Sunday af- 
ternoon as we witness the first encoun- 
ter between the People and the Elvi. 
The two COTI teams have put a great 
deal of effort into their presentation, im- 
provising exoskeletons, simulating ali- 
en sounds lo create a dancing-snap- 
ping, clicking-whistling, jumping sort of 
anthropological performance art. We 
watch rapt as people we've come to 
know over the course of the weekend 
shed their inhibitions and assume the 
nonhuman personae of their creations 
as their spacecraft come together and 
they meet, trunk to sensor, as it were. 
The moment of contact is actually 
quite moving, and also more than a lit- 
tle whimsical. To give a sense of the El- 
vi's communication, an otherworldly ver- 
sion of "Love Me Tender" is hummed. 
The contact is relentlessly nonviolent 
and even nonconfrontational. 

Van der Elst finds it interesting that 
this year's COTI exercise resulted in a 
successful meeting. It hasn't always 
worked out that way. "In the past," he 
says, "during the first six or seven CO- 
TIs, contact between humans and alt- 
ens ended in failure. The assumption 
was that humans are so nasty that 
they can't get along with anyone else. 
"Then came Gorbachev. Suddenly 
we had a CONTACT that worked." 

CONTINUED ON PAGE 111 



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FICTION BY 
JACK WILLIAMSON 

VENUS IS 
HEEL 

A SPOILED PLAYBOY 

HUNTS THE RAREST GAME IN THE 

SOLAR SYSTEM 

PAINTING BY 
TSUNEO SANDA 



his way of grabbing her arm as if he 
owned her. 

One day I asked why she'd come. 

"Not to find the fireworm." She 
laughed. "I'm another unbeliever, but 
Frankie begged till I made this crazy 
bet. If he does find his worms and gets 
back with proof, I've promised to mar- 
ry him. If not — " 

She didn't say what if. Something in 
her eyes puzzled me, and I nerved my- 
self to ask if she really felt bound by the 
bet. 

"Of course," She nodded very firm- 
ly. "1 keep my word." 

That hurt, but she was still running 
beautifully beside me in the gravity 
wheel and I thought she liked me. I 
couldn't help asking how she felt 
about Frankie. 

"Hard to say." Her voice was serious, 
as if she cared how I felt about her. 
"Our folks vacationed together when we 
were kids. They always planned for us 
to marry and carry fhe company on, I 
used to think I loved him. 

"Now — " 

She paused, and I turned to look. 
She was dewy with sweat and pink 
from the exercise, a living dream. Her 
vivid face turned grave with what she 
was recalling. "Frankie had a dog 
named Star. A big, white Great Pyre- 
nees, heavier than he was. Bought to 
be a watchdog, but no good for that be- 
cause he wanted to shake hands with 
everybody. Frankie saw a delivery van 
run him down. Couldn't stop crying. I 
felt so sorry." 

"Still sorry?" 

She looked hard at me, slowly nod- 
ding. "I know his problems. I guess I 
am." 

She didn't say why till we were out 
of the drum, cooling off on a bench. 
Glancing at me again, she must have 
seen how anxious I was to know more. 

"Family." She nodded soberly, remem- 
bering. "Our fathers were partners 
when they made the diamond strike. 
They came home heroes. I think Frank- 
ie has some kind of complex because 
he's never measured up to what his old 
man did! He feels a desperate need to 
be famous. A captured fireworm would 
take care of that," 

"And you came along as his person- 
al physician?" 

"I'm no doctor." I loved her quizzical 
smile. A moment passed before she 
went on. "I came to see Venus. Your PR 
people call it the mother of diamonds 
and the kingdom of mystery. For me it 
always was." 

Her perfect face grew graver. 

"I've lived there in my dreams ever 
since my father used to brag about how 
he and Mr. Karst made the strike at Dia- 

60 OMNI 



mond Dike — and nearly died on the 
way back to their lander. They were in 
a seismic zone. A bad quake shook 
them up and knocked out Mr. Karst. My 
dad was still able to run the crawler, but 
he got lost. He's always claimed a fire- 
worm came out of the rocks and 
crawled ahead to show him the way." 
Her laugh was always music. "Of 
course he was out of his head." 

She had to go because Frankie was 
yelling at the door. I sat there till I was 
shivering under the ventilator fan, afraid 
Frankie might find an actual fireworm 
and hoping desperately that he didn't. 

When we were braking toward Ve- 
nus, Captain Cable invited us into the 
nose cone to see the planet. Blazing 
blue-white against black space ahead, 
it was a perfect little crescent moon, so 
bright it dazzled me. 

"The morning star!" Meriden whis- 
pered. "So beautiful!" 



6The vid 
screens gave us a sudden 

panorama 

of Venus — a harsh landscape 

of upthrusf 

mountain masses, bare 

volcanic 

peaks, and dark lava flows. 9 



"Because all you see is the clouds 
around it." Cable was another veteran 
of Venus, his features burnt to the col- 
or of Rawler's, his bare head as bald, 
his vocal cords as badly scarred. 
"They're sulfuric acid." 

Those clouds grew more brilliant day 
by day, as lovely as the goddess the 
planet was named for, but they 
changed as we dived into them in aero- 
braking mode. Darkened to a gloomy, 
brownish-yellow, they were torn with sav- 
age storms and alive with lightning. 

Turbulence rocked the ship till we 
broke through into clear air beneath 
them. The vid screens gave us a sud- 
den panorama of Venus herself, no god- 
dess at all. A harsh landscape of 
upthrust mountain masses, bare volcan- 
ic peaks, and dark lava flows, it jolted 
me. 

"Hellish, if you like." Cable 
shrugged at its sullen face. "But we 
call Venus the mother of diamonds. 
Their growth takes heat and high pres- 
sure. Here we've got 'em both." 

Diamonds form in volcanic pipes, he 



told us. Getting them out had been a 
tough challenge to the engineers. The 
Diamond Dike mine was a cluster of cais- 
sons, huge hollow cylinders forced 
down to diamond-bearing levels by the 
enormous atmospheric pressure. 

Heavy again, all of us staggering a 
little afier the weeks of low-G, we land- 
ed at the mine. The superintendent was 
a Finn named' Kallio, a slow-spoken gi- 
ant, darkly tanned like all the staff with 
the radiation used to sanitize the man- 
ufactured air, head shaven like Rawler's 
because of the fungus that tainted it. 

He came to take us off in a crawler, 
a huge machine that lumbered on cat- 
erpillar tracks and radiated waste heat 
from a red-glowing crown. The maid 
and the man took one look at Venus on 
the vid screen and begged to stay 
aboard. 

"Welcome, sir! And who — " Kallio 
caught his breath, stunned when he 
saw Meriden. He took a moment to re- 
cover himself. "Hello, Miss. I — I'd bet- 
ter warn you that we're not prepared for 
tourists, but we'll try to show both of you 
whatever — " 

"I want a fireworm." I watched Kal- 
lio's look of startled disbelief. "The first 
specimen ever!" Frankie's pale, sharp 
face turned pink with enthusiasm. "I've 
brought Mudiak here to get the capture 
on vid." 

Kallio remembered in time that Frank- 
ie was a Karst. . 

"Yes, sir." I saw him swallow, "Of 
course, sir." He managed a thin, dark 
grin. "Though I've never seen one, sir. 
They're remarkably evasive, if they re- 
ally do exist. Really, sir, I wouldn't 
know where to search." 

"I do," Frankie said. "I've mapped sev- 
en of the best reported sightings, all cen- 
tered west of here in Aphrodite Terra." 

"Sir," Kallio tried to object, "I've stud- 
ied those reports. None confirmed—" 

"Unconfirmed," Frankie scoffed. "Be- 
cause most of them were made by old 
prospectors like my father. Risking ev- 
erything for diamonds, they never want- 
ed anything to frighten their crews." He 
looked sharply at Meriden. "I came to 
catch a specimen and take it home." 

She glanced at me with a small, Iron- 
ic shrug. 

"I've brought a capture gun." His 
voice turned imperative. "I want it mount- 
ed on a crawler. You can do that by to- 
morrow." 

"Very good, sir." Reluctantly, Kallio 
gave up. "We'll do what we can." 

Showing us around, Kallio took us 
through a narrow tunnel and up an el- 
evator into the lookout dome. We saw 
the caissons, five huge steel silos clus- 
tered around us, their high-ribbed 
crowns cherry red with waste heat 



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ther out/ derricks and gantries and va- 
por stacks looming like an army of gro- 
tesque black monsters against a hori- 
zon of black volcanic cones and that 
angry yellow sky where endless light- 
ning burned. 

"It does look infernal," Kallio 
grinned when we shrank from that lurid 
gloom. "But the ladies like our dia- 
monds. So, of course, do the electron- 
ics engineers — " 

"Over there?" Meriden gestured at a 
great black pile of rubble and tangled 
steel beyond the field where the Ishtar 
stood. "What happened?" 

"The Lady Jane." His voice turned grit- 
tier. "Caisson Number One. The top of 
it exploded when a quake let air under 
the cutting rim." 

Not really air, of course, but a mur- 
derous blast of superheated carbon di- 
oxide saturated with sulfuric acid and 
driven by that terrific pressure. Nothing 
nice to think about. 

"Oh!" Meriden shivered. "It must 
have been dreadful." 

"All killed instantly, with no time to suf- 
fer." Nothing changed his dark poker 
face. "Only two caissons then. The oth- 
er took less damage. Most of the crew 
got out alive and took off for Earth. Mr. 
Karst hired a new crew to reclaim the 
mine. That was when I came out." 

He had the lookout pour hot tea for 
us. Before we could sip it, a sharp 
quake rattled our saucers and upset 
Frankie's cup. As a school kid out on 
the coast, I had lived through the great 
San Andreas quake, and I was on my 
feet before it stopped. Ready to run 
with nowhere to go. Frankie sat staring 
ruefully at his spilt tea, his knobby fore- 
finger scraping at that pale moustache. 
Seeming calm as Kallio now, Meriden 
turned to look at him. 

"Nothing unusual." He shrugged. "Ve- 
nus laughing, we used to say, when our 
drills tickle it. You'll feel a dozen jolts a 
day and learn not to mind 'em." 

Remembering that California quake, 
I wasn't sure. While I was righting my 
overturned chair, the planet quivered 
again. I gripped the table, which was 
bolted to the floor. Frankie let the look- 
out refill his cup" and turned to scowl at 
me. "Cool off, Mudiak," he scolded me. 
"You know we're in a seismic belt. Oth- 
erwise no diamonds. Probably no fire- 
worms. The reports associate them 
with surface rock formations fractured 
by earthquake shock." 

Kallio found a crawler for us and got 
the gun mounted. He tried to warn us 
next morning that it was only a work ma- 
chine, never meant for comfort. Frank- 
ie gave him no time to refit it for luxury, 



and he seemed appalled when Meriden 
came with the driver and mechanic to 
the dock. 

"Pardon, Miss — " He touched her 
arm. "Better wait here at the mine." 

"I'm with Mr. Karst." 

"But Miss — " Concern for her fur- 
rowed his ray-burnt face, "The crawler's 
not fit for any long expedition. Things 
happen here. Really, you'd be safer on 
the ship. Even the caissons aren't en- 
tirely secure. You saw what hit the La- 
dy Jane." 

"1 want to see a fireworm, if they do 
exist." 

"They don't." He glanced to see 
that Frankie was out of earshot. "Not if 
you ask me. And I wish you wouldn't go 
out." He waved at the vid screen that 
showed the squat black bulk of the crawl- 
er. "No place for you, Miss. If one seal 
fails, if the cooler stops, if the engine 
dies, you'll be cooked in no time. Be- 
lieve me, Miss, Venus is hell." 

"So we'll be the demons," His 
scarred face looked frozen till her 
quick smile thawed it. "I'm glad you 
care." 

i followed her through the heavy- 
walled lock, 

". . . better listen, Miss."The mechan- 
ic had caught her arm. "God knows 
what we'll find." 

Wild-haired and hollow-eyed, the 
man was burnt black and withered to 
the bone. His. voice was a wheezy 
croak, and I saw him try to stifle a 
cough. He had been too long on the 
planet. 

"I wish you wouldn't come." He 
glanced toward Frankie and bent clos- 
er to her, hoarsely whispering. "We 
don't know Venus. Monster diamonds 
won't be the last big surprise. I've 
seen things I've got no words for." 

"Thanks." She smiled. "You make me 
want to see." 

He shrugged and let her go. 

Frankie was spreading his map on 
the instrument console and giving or- 
ders to the driver. Diamond Dike lay on 
the bottom of a vast cliff-rimmed basin; 
an old calclera, the driver said. We 
pushed west out of it, into the volcanic 
heart of Aphrodite Terra. 

The crawler was a clumsy steel cof- 
fin, too small for the five of us. It 
lurched and pitched till we had to 
cling to our seats. The nuclear engine 
was almost soundless, but the gears 
whined and howled. The toilet stank. 
The air had a sharp, hot, sulfuric bite I 
never got used to. A bug in the cooler 
computer kept freezing us and baking 
us and freezing us again. Except for the 
driver's narrow heat screen, we were 
blind. 

Out on the basin rim, we were still in 



radio range. Frankie made the driver 
stop to let me send a hofovid fax back 
to our Manhattan office. I got him sit- 
ting at the wheel, hamming for the lens 
while he peered through the shield at 
the stark desolation ahead and de- 
scribed the crawler and the capture 
gun and his plans for the hunt. 

"I'll be back with the first trophy 
wo/m," he promised. "Stay tunedl" 

Beyond the rim, we followed his map 
farther west, climbing through tangled 
hummocks of ancient lava into a jum- 
ble of newer flows and lava cones. A 
dismal day, as we counted human 
hours. That foreboding sky never 
changed, because the day of Venus is 
endiess, even longer than its year. 

The driver kept hinting uneasily that 
the sulfur stink came from some undis- 
covered microscopic leak that might 
grow larger. The mechanic was afraid 
the defective cooler might go out alto- 
gether, but Frankie had grown almost 
fanatic, scanning his map and leaning 
to see through his slit and shouting im- 
patient commands. When the driver 
groaned and said he was beat, Frank- 
ie took the wheel himself. 

Trying to look past him, I caught 
glimpses of rough, black cliffs, ejected 
boulders, and yawning lava tubes that 
looked wide enough to swallow us, but 
never a sign of anything alive. Nor any . 
hint that anything here had ever been 
alive. Meriden was asleep in the seat 
beside me, her head on my shoulder, 
when his sharp scream aroused us. 

"I see it! I see it! Vidman, quick!" The 
gears clashed and shrieked. "I saw it." 

He raced us across that wilderness 
of tortured stone, battering us with reck- 
less lurches and collisions, until at last 
he stopped the crawler and beckoned 
me back to the screen. 

"I saw it right there." He pointed at 
a jut of black basalt with a narrow scar 
across it. "A shining thing that slid into 
the cliff. Get the spot." 

I shot the fissure and the ledge. 

"A real fireworm?" Meriden was still 
the skeptic. "Or just a lightning stroke? 
You hear odd reports of ball lightning — " 

"Hah!" He sniffed. "Lightning's only 
in the clouds. This air's too dense for 
lightning on the surface." 

"Who says?" Her impish laugh be- 
came a weary yawn. "Let's take a 
break." 

He let us take the break. The mechan- 
ic heated five of the prepacked meals 
the miners ate and we slept a few 
hours in our seats, the mechanic snort- 
ing and yelling in some tormented 
dream. Frankie woke us too soon, shout- 
ing for coffee. Meriden helped the me- 
chanic brew a fresh urn. Frankie 1 
drained his mug and spread his map 



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again and drove us on. 

Late that day we came out on a 
wide, black plain that the driver said 
was the dead lava floor of another 
caldera. Frankie said he'd meet no tire- 
worms there because all the reported 
sightings had been in rougher country. 
He took back the wheel to rush us 
across. I was half asleep when I heard 
him yell, "Vidman! Now!" 

Peering over his shoulder, I saw the 
worm crawling ahead of us. Nothing I'd 
ever imagined. Closer to a snake than 
a worm, it shone like a thin tongue of 
yellow flame, or perhaps a wisp ot 
bright yellow sand blown across that fro- 
zen lava sea. It seemed frantic, darting 
back and forth ahead of the crawler. 

"Careful, Frank!" Meriden stared 
past me. "Don't run it down!" 

"Get it, vidman!" He ignored her, 
"Get it!" 

He leaned to let me shoot through 
the shield. I got maybe five minutes of 
it before he was yelling in my ear. 

"Enough! It's looking for a hole. I've 
got to take it now. Get the action." 

I backed away to get him firing the 
capture gun. It made a dull boom. Shoot- 
ing through the shield again, I caught 
a silvery metal net that spread in the air 
and snared the worm. It fought the mesh- 
es, writhing and striking like a snake, 
but Frankie closed the net around it and 
tightened a cable to pull it off the 
ground, up toward the muzzle of the 
long gun. 

The driver was still groggy from 
sleep, rubbing his eyes and muttering 
curses of startled disbelief. The mechan- 
ic rummaged in his tool box and 
waved a dog-eared paper book. 

"Shakespeare nearly had it." He 
seemed bemused, as if Shakespeare 
mattered. "If he'd said, There are 
more things in heaven and hell than are 
dreamt of — '" 

He stopped because nobody was lis- 
tening. 

"Frank! Frank!" Meriden was pale 
and breathless, craning to see. Her anx- 
ious cry cut through the whine of the 
gears. "It's alive! Frightened! Helpless!" 
She caught his arm. "Don't you remem- 
ber Star?" 

Rigid for an instant, he turned to 
blink at her and swung back to yell at 
me, "Vidman! Get the battle!" 

Close up, the worm looked like 
jelled fire, dimming and glowing again 
with some pulsing energy. It seemed 
half transparent, with flecks of blue 
light flashing and vanishing under the 
shimmer of its skin. Its narrow nose had 
thrust out though a mesh in the net. I 
counted five bright blue spots that 
seemed to peer like frightened eyes. 

"Please, Frank! Please! If you love 

64 OMNI 



me — 

Her protest ended in a breathless 
gasp. I think the worm had thinned its 
long serpent shape in an effort to slide 
to freedom, but Frankie was pulling a 
lever that wound his cables in and 
crushed it tighter. The five-eyed nose 
came out again, and it kept fighting the 
meshes till Frankie pushed a red but- 
ton on his capture machine. It writhed 
and went limp. 

"A high-voltage jolt," he told me, "to 
teach it who's in control." He turned to 
grin at Meriden "Of course I love you, 
Merry, but the fireworm means more 
than the dog ever did. I've got it record- 
ed on tape and safe in the net. So 
what do you think?" 

"I think you've hurt it." Her face 
looked tight and pale. "Maybe killed it." 

"No matter." He swung to nod at his 
captive. "You saw me take it. Dead or 
alive, it wins our wager. Mom will gocra- 



iThe crawler 

stalled on the ridge. The 

engine died. 

The lights went out. I 

saw the 

driver scrabbling at the 

controls. 

They were useless. 9 



zy, setting up a society wedding. I can 
see the skeptics eating crow. And my 
name's made!" 

She glanced silently at me. 1 won- 
dered what she felt, but her ironic 
shrug said nothing. 

Even for believers, the fireworms had 
been a baffling riddle, because no con- 
ceivable life type could survive under 
the pressures and temperatures of 
that acid atmosphere. Frankie kept say- 
ing the creature would prove a notion 
of his own, that their life processes 
were electric or magnetic, energized by 
radioactivity in the rocks where they 
lived. 

He thought the captured creature 
must be an infant. 

"It's far smaller than the one 1 saw slid- 
ing into that fissure. Which is probably 
my good luck. A mature specimen 
might have been quick enough or 
smart enough to get away." 

He turned the crawler around and we 
jolted back toward Diamond Dike. He 
made me keep my camera on the cap- 
five as long as I could stay awake. It 



made a pathetic little huddle, helpless 
in the net and tossed back and forth be- 
neath the gun barrel as the crawler 
lurched. Its yellow glow was fading slow- 
ly, and I caught no movemenl. 

"Poor baby!" Meriden stood behind 
me, her hand on my shoulder. "It must 
be suffering." 

Frankie ordered her impatiently 
back to her seat, but when I got too grog- 
gy to run the camera, he muttered an 
apology and let her take it. I must have 
slept. The next I knew I lay sprawled in 
the aisle. 

"What hap — " Frankie was yelling at 
the driver. "What the hell!" 

"Where else, sir?" The driver turned 
to grin at him, impudence only half con- 
cealed. "Just another minor quake. The 
price, you might say, the devil asks for 
diamonds. Our seismos register a hun- 
dred bigger tremors every year." 

The crawler was motionless, the howl- 
ing gears still. The mechanic helped me 
off the floor, saying the quake had al- 
most overturned us. Meriden looked 
shaken, but she was soon pouring 
mugs of that foul coffee. Frankie stood 
a long time staring out through the 
heat screen. 

"I wonder — " He turned at last back 
to us, rubbing nervously at that thin 
moustache. "The creatures live under- 
ground. Most of the sightings have 
been near earthquake fractures, most 
commonly during or just after quakes. 
Do you imagine — " He licked at a 
smear of blood on his lip. "Could they 
possibly — " He blinked uncertainly at 
me. "Possibly make the quakes?" 

"Huh?" I managed not to laugh. "You 
think they're hitting back?" 

"God knows!" The diver looked star- 
tled. "I never thought they were real. But 

Meriden turned to look through the 
heat shield and stifled a little cry. 

"The pitiful thing!" she whispered. "Dy- 
ing, 1 think." 

When Frankie ordered me back with 
the camera, I saw that the fireworm was 
dead. Its body looked tiny in the net, 
shriveled to a little knot of wrinkled yel- 
low rope. I kept the tape running while 
it crumbled into flakes of yellow dust 
that fell through the meshes and settled 
very slowly through the dense air. In only 
a couple of hours, the net hung empty. 

"That what you wanted?" Meriden 
was staring hard at Frankie when I 
turned back from all that remained of 
the worm, a little patch of bright yellow 
dust on the old black lava. Her face was 
stiff and bitter. "Happy about it?" 

"I did get my worm." His narrow 
chin jutted defiantly. "With tapes to 
prove it, and you for a wit—" 

The crawler shook. I heard an appall- 



ing sound that seemed to come from 
far below, a deep-toned moan that 
swelled into a furious bellow and final- 
ly into bone-jarring thunder. 

"If your worms are demons — " The 
driver squinted grimly at Frankie, shout- 
ing through that dazing roar. "Better 
hang on!" 

The shock struck before I got my 
seat belt buckled. It knocked me back 
into the aisle, the mechanic sprawled 
on top of me. Another jolt hit before we 
had our breath, and yet another. Si- 
lence struck us when they stopped, stun- 
ning as another shock. Gasping for 
breath, feeling for wounds, we 
dragged ourselves off the floor. 

"Thank God it's over — if it is!" 

The driver found an aid kit and Me- 
riden helped him spray our cuts and 
bruises. The mechanic mopped up the 
spilt coffee and offered more. Frankie 
turned back to the shield and stood rig- 
id, squinting back into the east. 

"That sky!" The driver peered past 
him. "I don't like it. Let's get back to the 
Dike." 

They used the external waldos to 
scrape up samples of that golden dust 
and Frankie drove us back toward the 
mine. Staring over his shoulder, I tried 
to see the sky. It looked dead black be- 
tween blinding lightning flashes that 



showed something falling, flakes like 
snow swirling down in slow motion 
through the heavy air. 

"Ash!" the driver rasped. "Volcanic 
ash." 

It grew thicker, till Frankie admitted 
he was lost. The driver took the wheel 
and the crawler roared on, plowing 
through drifts of the loose ash, skidding 
into hidden pits, crashing into cliffs" it 
couldn't climb. We were all mauled and 
exhausted, but Meriden stayed beside 
me. 

"Sorry you came?" she whispered. 

"Are you?" 

She squeezed my hand. 

And we blundered blindly on 
through that fog of fire-lit ash. Now and 
again the driver tried the radio. All he 
got was blasting static till at last he 
said we were on the basin rim, back in 
short-wave range. He stopped the crawl- 
er to listen with his headphones. His 
black-stub bled face grew grimmer. 

"The mine?" Frankie reached for the 
headset. "Let me talk." 

The driver shook his head. "Nobody 
listening." 

"So what are you hearing?" 

"A recorded message. Left on the re- 
peater to alert us. The seismic net was 
reporting violent activity all over Aphro- 
dite Terra before it went out. Heavy 




shocks all along the major faults. Lava 
domes swelling. Mount Karst, just 
north of the Dike, already exploding." 

"A recording?" Frankie's long face 
went white. "Why?" 

"They didn't say." The driver 
shrugged. "If you want my guess, they 
remember the Lady Jane. Probably al- 
ready taking off on the Ishtar. Hoping 
to save their hides." 

"Which leaves us—" The mechanic 
went pale. 

Meriden looked at me and laughed. 

"What's funny?" Frankie demanded, 
his voice gone hoarse. 

"I was just wondering," she said. 
"Wondering if killing that baby worm 
made its people angry." 

His mouth opened as if to retort. He 
shivered instead and snapped at the 
driver. "Get on!" 

We drove pn across the black crags 
of the old caldera rim and down into a 
heavier fall of ash, a swirling curtain 
that hid everything. Constant thunder 
hammered us, louder than the scream- 
ing gears. Frankie crouched over the 
driver, yelling in his ear. 

The crawler slid down a long slope, 
lurched across the ravine at the bottom, 
and stalled on the ridge beyond. The 
engine died. The lights went out. Sud- 
denly sharper, that sulfur reek stung my 
eyes. In the lurid lightning glaring 
through the shield, 1 saw the driver scrab- 
bling frantically at the controls. 

They were useless. The dead ma- 
chine shuddered to another quake, shud- 
dered again. I pushed to Frankie's 
side to look out through the screen. The 
crawler had stalled as we tipped up to 
climb. All I could see was that savage 
sky, suffocating blackness, and lurid pur- 
ple lighting. 

"If they call it hell— " 

Frankie gasped, sagged back into 
his seat as if stricken. Meriden caught 
my arm. I heard her quick intake of 
breath and realized that the thunder 
had ceased. So had the constant 
quakes. For a moment we were blind, 
but then I saw a faint glow born above 
us, slowly brightening. A soft golden 
light, it had the color of the live fireworm. 

Nobody spoke. After that first frozen 
moment, we all shuffled forward to 
stare through the shield. The fall of ash 
had stopped. The air cleared slowly, 
till we could see the wide basin floor 
spread out below us, amber-colored 
and almost luminous under that 
strange sky. I found the .red-crowned 
caissons of the mine, the horde of 
great black robotic machines around 
them, the Ishtar still on the ground. 

Meriden moved closer, her live 
warmth good against me. Together we 
watched that transformed sky. As the 



ash cleared, that uncanny glow re- 
vealed an edge, a smooth, bright 
curve that ran just above us, covering 
all the basin. It shook me with terror. 

"More things," I heard the mechanic 
murmur. "More than we dreamt of." 

"Your damn worms! "the driver shout- 
ed at Frankie, his voice quivering with 
tension. "If they live down in the rocks, 
what happened to the sky?" 

Frankie sat rigid, staring up. 

"Venus — " A coughing fit cut off the 
mechanic's solemn croak till he straight- 
ened to wipe his eyes and gasp, 
"Strange! Stranger than we ever knew. 
Stranger than we humans can know!" 

Nobody spoke, but I knew that some- 
thing in the sky had sheltered us. Like 
the hand of God, I thought, spread 
above us to halt the lightning, stop the 
raining ash, quiet the quakes. Yet of 
course it was not God. I'd never be- 
lieved in God. The event was simply too 
much for me, something beyond all be- 
lief or understanding. 

"If we killed their baby—" Mehden's 
fingers gripped my hand. Her whisper 
died away and came faintly back. "If 
they have this power, the power to 
teach us such a lesson, why should 
they save us?" 

I knew no answer. 

The engine started when we tried it 



again. That glow in the sky lighted our 
way across that old caldera, back to the 
mine. We found the crew there no wis- 
er than we were. Kallio seemed numb 
with shock. 

"Quakes are nothing." He shook his 
dark-shining head. "But this — " 

He stopped to stare at me as if beg- 
ging for comfort nobody could give him. 
Something he didn't understand had 
shut off the power and stopped every 
machine at the mine. Even the coolers. 
After less than a minute, however, some- 
thing had let them start again. 

"A few seconds more could have 
killed us ail." 

Yet Diamond Dike was still alive, and 
Kallio was soon trying to bring us up to 
date. Radio contact with Earth had 
been cut off even before the seismic net 
was lost. Now alive again, the instru- 
ments here at the Dike showed a few 
distant quakes but nothing at all under 
Aphrodite Terra. 

He took us back to the lookout 
dome for a better view of that inexpli- 
cable sky. Its glow was featureless but 
sharply edged, like a smooth, yellow 
moon somehow come impossibly 
close. The horizons were black beneath 
it, flickering with faraway lightning. 

"This golden light — don't you feel it?" 
Meriden smiled at me, her whisper 



IF M iftii&'sme'A/f 




hushed with the awe that had touched 
us all. "It makes me feel — grand! The 
way you imagine a good drink 
should." 

I did have a surprising sense of re- 
laxed well-being, my cuts and bruises 
no longer painful. Diamond Dike 
seemed suddenly a pleasant place, 
and I felt too happy to wonder why. We 
scrubbed, ate a prepacked meal that 
tasted unexpectedly good, and slept un- 
til Kallio called us to breakfast with 
news that the fire cloud was fading. 

"I've got the answer." He grinned at 
Frankie, with an air of cheery relief. 
"When Ml. Karst exploded, the hot gas 
plume made a giant smoke ring, punch- 
ing through those high sulfuric clouds. 
That unusual glow overhead was only 
natural sunlight breaking through the 
hole." 

"Could be." Frankie seemed relieved. 
"I hadn't thought of that." 

"Nonsense!" the gaunt mechanic mut- 
tered to Meriden and me as we walked 
out. "Or half-sense. The problem is, we 
don't belong here. Our human brains 
evolved to cope with Earth. They're sim- 
ply not the tool for understanding Ve- 
nus." He glanced back at Kallio and 
Frankie, a wry grin twisting his dark- 
stubbled lip. "If the fireworms think, 
they do it with a sort of mind we'll nev- 
er understand. To them, Venus may be 
heaven." 

By noon the venusian sky looked nor- 
mal again, those stormy yellow clouds 
riven once more with high lightning, the 
thunder muffled to a distant rumble. Kal- 
lio still seemed a little addled when we 
met with him at lunch, but he told us 
that contact with Earth had been re- 
stored. 

"If I knew what to say — " He 
scowled across the table at Frankie, baf- 
flement in his blood-shot eyes. "I've got 
lab reports on your yellow dust. It has 
all decayed to very common molecules, 
mostly oxides and sulfides of iron. Evi- 
dence of nothing—" . 

"We've got his holovids." Frankie 
jerked his head at me. "Proof enough." 

"Forget the vids," Kallio told him. 
"Rawler's legal and publicity people 
have advised him to sit on your fireworm 
story. Too controversial to fit our adver- 
tising image of Venusian diamonds as 
eternal verities." 

Frankie was turning pink till Meriden 
touched his arm. 

"At least we're safe." She swung hope- 
fully to Kallio. "So long as we get back 
home — " 

"Ishtar's loading fuel," he assured 
her. "Lifting early tomorrow," 

"Without me," Frankie said. 

We all stared at him. I thought he'd 
gone crazy. He pushed his plate away, 



half his meal uneaten, and sat s< 
bing that wispy moustache with a lean 
forefinger. Abruptly he frowned at Me-' 
riden. 

"Merry — " He stopped and gulped, 
turning pinker. "You remember our wa- 
ger." He stabbed an odd glance at me. 
"It's awkward. 1 hate to be welshing, but 
I'm not coming home. I must talk to the 
worms." 

"Sir?" Kallio looked stunned. "Sir?" 

"I must find them." With an air of sol- 
emn regret, Frankie shook his head a 
Meriden. "I must ask them — " His big 
Adam's apple bobbed up and down. 
"Ask them to forgive me." 

"Really, sir?" Kallio's rusty voice lift- 
ed unbelievingly. "Do you imagine you'll 
ever find another?" 

"I'll keep looking till I do." His narrow 
jaw jutted stubbornly. "I want you to 
build me a long-range crawler, 
equipped and supplied to search all the 
seismic zones." 

"Even if you meet them, sir, will they 
ever understand?" 

"They'll have to, because I killed 
Iheir child." 

Sitting farther down the table, the rr 
chanic shook his head and shrugged 
at me. And Frankie stayed on Venus to 
hunt another fireworm. I watched Me- 
riden kiss him goodbye next morning b 
fore we went aboard the Ishtar. I think ■ 
she still felt sorry for him. 

But not too sorry. DO 

CREDITS 
Page 6: Christopher Spfingman; page 1t 

She ! 5a:i.jr.r.-= page i a. -:ennei Prefi;page1E 

■ i ■ , ■ ■ i. . 

i & Stephen 
A. C7Brkas: page 25-26: -V.er t iepffi; page 35: 

.ILljC 
Star; page 38: Obreirski/Tne Iriacie Sunt:, 
page 39, top: Ua-.-icl Stoec ■■;'■'■? n.' ~e inacje 
Bank; page 39, bottom: Wemhe- Krura 'i.'Gan- 
'•i-j L<\L\'r,o-\ 03Qk 40. lop: E- V. Leigh S unions; 
The Image Bank; page 40. bottom: Mar;i Pie/ 
i In' M . ■ ; .mi . :»,:fii' I. ;mi ! I'lniy ; .. 1 1 ■ ■ 1 1 .■ 
Black Star; page 42, bottom: ,,a-;k 3:ei~ Grave; 
Gamrra ■...<! 'sen; page 73: S-igemi i\.,ma7awa;' 
E:igc-.-y Agency: paye-i 76-78: USA Ne:worK. 
page 80: Tony Wang; page 8S: Julia" Eaun/ 
Scianne r.-s.-WPi-,--.. -:™^ar chars: page 92, 
top | T I t'Jte, NASA/ 

Scarce Phele -kva-y. page 92, middle: 
Ke-"u KijKvk/Gco'i^e Pho-: Uorary: page 92, 
bottom left: Cr. Fi. S. Fills. Univers-ly iy Durban/ 
3c once P'olo _ forary; page 92, bottom mid- 
dle: Space TelsscspE) 2c -2--.ZC: l^s".i:-..ite. i\A"iA/ 
Science Photo Libraiy; page 92 bottom right: 
1MB Co;labOiat.c.-/3oirji!CC -'iOto Library: 
page 93, top: Madc'ox. S.t-srl-inrl F-stslhir;.! 
i i !.■■; ■ ■ ■:■ L ■jiiiiy; page 93, mid- 
til ii I page 93 bot- 
tom left: Ian Robson & : V i Apple :o'/Seiencc- 
FIioto Jbre/y: page 93, no"om middle: S'jaoe 

■ii ■■■■;■■ ■ lln'i- '!A3A.-',Vla:k Iv'.ar- 

■cn.-'Sc.or.ce. Jou.'ee-. page 93, bottom right: NA- 
SA/Mark Mar.. ■ ■ <ii. page 101: 

Paula Li- pjg^ 107 Pete 

Turner: page 10S: SETI Institute, NASA; pagi 
109, left: Pat Hiil, page 109, middle: Tom Zim 
beroff; page 109, second right: Ham 
BfinKhuis. 




You always come back to the basics: J^mI 



92 Jama B. Bom Distilling Co., Clonmnt, tX 



HOW TO SAVE 




THE SPACE 




PROGRAM 




gram and 
start meeting 
the ones 
already set. 
A space 
policy expert 
lays out a 
decisive plan 
of action. 



nual basis instead of on the current, ab- 
surd, total-cost basis. The Adminislra- 
tion and Congress should negotiate the 
amount to make it consistent with the 
government's fiscal constraints: this na- 
tion can certainly afford a modest annu- 
al — even perpetual — investment in its fu- 
ture. Projects that should be budgeted 
this way include not only manned explo- 
ration, but also efforts such as the in- 
depth monitoring of parameters that af- 
fect the Earth's environment and the 
development of major new infrastruc- 
ture elements like space stations and 
new transportation systems. The pro- 
jects' progress should be monitored 
through short-term milestones, and an- 
nual budgets can be renegotiated com- 
mensurate with NASA's success in 
achieving those goals. 
■ 5, Create real incentives for commer- 
cial space development. Although tax 
credits for companies that invest in 
space would certainly help, subsidies 
of this type aren't really necessary. Far 
more effective in bringing [he private sec- 
tor into an active space role would be 
establishing the government as a 
friend rather than an adversary, as in 
Japan and France: funding generic re- 
search and development, buying all the 
goods and services needed for space 
from commercial vendors, easing anti- 



■ trust laws and otherwise encouraging 
companies to team together (especially 
in global markets), streamlining restric- 
tive regulations, making government 
facilities conveniently available to indus- 
try at cost, not competing with private- 
sector suppliers of goods and services, 
and supporting U.S. industry in the 
international marketplace. 

6. Recognize and publicize the inher- 
ent high risk involved in space devel- 
opment and exploration — not only risk 
to human astronauts but also program- 
matic risks such as cost, schedule, and 
equipment failures. The nation has 
come to fear risk, not only in space but 
in all elements of everyday life. By its 
refusal to accept any risk, the American 
public has made it virtually impossible 
for NASA to pursue its intrinsically risky 
goals. It is, of course, necessary and 
proper to reduce risk to the minimum 
practical levels, but the nation should 
encourage, not discourage, prudent 
risk-taking by NASA wherever it would 
advance the space program's accom- 
plishments. 

7. Increase substantially the nation- 
al investment in a space technology 
base. Technology is the "seed corn" 
that nourishes all space activity. We 
have allowed it to decay alarmingly dur- 
ing the past two decades as we con- 




"There goes my old doctor — the one who told me I was every bit as 
healthy as he was/" 



tinue to feed on the technology devel- 
oped during NASA's early years, and it 
critically needs a massive injection of 
funds and bright young people. Again, 
the annual budget commitment re- 
quired for such an endeavor lies well 
within the nation's capabilities. 

8. Replace the current government-to- 
government mechanism for internation- 
al cooperation with one that empha- 
sizes company-to-company agree- 
ments. International cooperation is like 
mother love and apple pie, but the in- 
terminable negotiations for Space Sta- 
tion Freedom showed how difficult it 
can be. More and more international con- 
sortia have appeared in recent years, 
because they not only allow companies 
to share the investment costs of expen- 
sive space endeavors, but also ampli- 
fy technical, managerial, and manufac- 
turing capabilities and significantly ex- 
pand market opportunities, 

9. Assign to the relevant government 
agencies specific space roles that rec- 
ognize their unique abilities. NASA 
should oversee space research and 
technology and the development of 
new space capabilities; industry 
should not only be a supplier to NASA, 
but should build and operate space- 
related systems and equipment that 
have commercial prospects. The De- 
partment of Defense should take over 
operations for national (noncommercial) 
space ventures'once their technologies 
have been developed by NASA. The 
Department of Commerce should act as 
U.S. industry's agent in the overseas mar- 
kets. Since industry should become the 
primary mechanism for international 
cooperation (see item 8), the State 
Department should step in only for trea- 
ty negotiations. The Department of En- 
ergy should develop all solar and nucle- 
ar space technologies and systems, 

10. Use professionals to communi- 
cate information —the "why" as well as 
the "how" — on both national and com- 
mercial aspects of the U.S. space pro- 
gram. The Catholic Church does so; 
why not the U.S. government? NASA's 
public information people do a great 
job, but they're shackled by govern- 
ment procedures and constraints. Our 
advertising agencies seem quite effec- 
tive at getting various types of messag- 
es across to the public; they should ex- 
cel at selling so fascinating a commod- 
ity as space development and explo- 
ration. Without strong public support, 
there can be no national space pro- 
gram, and the people need to under- 
stand why we need it. DO 

Jerry Grey is director for science and 
technology policy at the American In- 
stitute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. 



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A on FOR 

SCIENCE FIC 





"The Sci-Fi Channel will be bigger 
than Star Trek," foretold Gene 
Rod den berry, creator of the 
Trekker series, advisory board 
member of the nascent cable tel- 
evision network and all-around sci- 
ence-fiction guru. "Star Trek was 
one show," Roddenberry ob- 
served, "but this will be twenty- 
four hours a day It will be more 
powerful because you're creating a whole new cul- 
tural environment — like MTV did for music." Both 
Roddenberry and fellow Sci-Fi board member Isaac 
Asimov died before the channel finally passed from 
the realm of fiction into a real, viable, working net- 
work — in fact, Sci-Fi almost followed the two men in- 
to the great beyond. Plagued by funding problems, 
skepticism from risk-shy cable-system operators, and 
the fits and starts of launching any such wildly ambi- 
tious venture, Sci-Fi almost became a has-been be- 
fore it made an official debut. 

Roddenberry's prediction — "bigger than Star 
Trek . . . more powerful"— is very much to the point, 
however, as the channel's founders Mitch Rubenstein 
and Laurie Silvers sold their baby to the USA Net- 
work, and by extension, USA's parent companies, Par- 
amount and MCA. Suddenly Sci-Fi has not only a bank- 
roll, but also the production facilities and advertising 
might and a staff of battle-tried TV execs who were 
champing at the bit for a new project. They are ready, 
they insist, to boldly go where no network has gone 
before, to create a new cultural environment as 
Roddenberry proposed. They speak with Messianic 
fervor about a channel that will look like no other on 
TV: When you stop at their dial, you'll know where you 
are. Computer-aided design (CAD), sound intona- 
tions, quirky program scheduling, rare and classic sci- 
ence fiction, fantasy and horror from the 1940s on- 
ward — these are on tap for the first year. Many of the 
ideas came from science-fiction connoisseurs who 
have swamped the station with requests to air their 
favorite shows. 

But the real point piquing expectations are plans 
for the future. The Sci-Fi channel is a natural for pre- 
miering new technologies: They don't want to merely 
report on what's up and coming, they want to em- 
ploy it — from HDTV, which is ready to go, to evolving 
systems like Interactive Television and virtual reality. 
"We're not only going to show science fiction on the 
Sci-Fi Channel," says vice chairman Rubenstein, 
"we're going to play with the new science of TV and 
introduce these things as a part of the channel. We'll 
be a launch pad for new technologies." 

That's great for the hard-core fans, whom polls num- 
ber at somewhere around 800,000, but Sci-Fi is go- 
ing into 10 million homes at launch and hopes to es- 
calate to 50 million in five years. According to those 
in the know, Sci-Fi has its voyage cut out for it. In the 



cable biz, you have several audiences to please: the 
advertisers who foot the lion's share of the bills, the 
cable operators who decide whether or not to zap 
your channel into the living rooms of their million 
subs (subscribers), and the viewers. In the case of 
Sci-Fi, even this last category needs further qualifi- 
cation between the dyed-in-the-wool fans and the 
much larger crossover audience — discrete camps 
with distinct expectations. "It's hard to know exactly 
how to do this," says David Kenin, executive vice pres- 
ident of programming. "The eight hundred thousand 
fans don't want to see anything touched or edited or 
moved; they want to see a film in its pure form, The 
larger community of nine million doesn't want certain 
words or body parts to arrive unannounced in their 
homes— they have a very different idea of purity." 

Yet, expectations will be high in all camps. Kay Kop- 
lovitz, president and CEO of the USA Networks, 
acknowledges that Sci-Fi wili be battling for a slice 
of some very tough turf, "People expect a new net- 
work to look as refined as any network out there. 
They're expecting a product to go on the screen and 
to have a good look about it from the very beginning. 
You have to have deep pockets to be a serious play- 
er." Kenneth Johnson, creator of The incredible 
Hulk, The Bionic Woman, Alien Nation, and V, and 
producer of The Six Million Dollar Man, adds to the 
equation: "Audiences are so sophisticated. Look at 
Terminator 2— a. hundred million for a two-hour film. 
When you turn on Sci-Fi, you expect to see Terminator 
on a budget of two million. This can be a problem," 

Johnson is quick to point out, however, that a mas- 
sive dose of money isn't everything. "Science fiction 
and fantasy shows today are more style than sub- 
stance. One of the biggest mistakes is that people 
rely on special effects to carry a picture, and that nev- 
er works." Johnson's admonitions to Sci-Fi Poo 
Bans? "Technology should only be used to serve the 
story or else there's a tremendous danger of the tail 
wagging the dog. All of the shows I've worked on 
were created for a core audience, but they managed 
to reach a larger group because we were about qual- 
ity: compelling characters and good storytelling." 

Serving the interests of both the 800,000 and the 
9 million in exquisite equipoise is a major challenge 
for the corporate-TV tightrope walkers. But many of 
these Nielsen-defying artistes attest to the universal 
and eternal appeal of the sci-fi adventure. "There is 
an essential element of imagination to the genre that 
has a perennial appeal, that touches something im- 
portant in adults that harkens back to something 
that touched us when we were young," Kenin says. 
"As a kid, I remember the power and magic of Su- 
perman, Batman, and Captain Marvel, and those im- 
ages are still magic for me today. The prospect of 
encountering a reality onscreen that was nowhere 
else in one's experience made movies like The 
Thing and It Came from Outer Space memories for 




a lifetime." According to Kenin, Sci-Fi is to provide, 
in one place, as much variety and choice in science 
fiction as it can achieve. "This will allow those of us 
who were affected by those products of popular cul- 
ture to have easy access to them again," he says. 

And Andrew Besch, senior vice president of market- 
ing, loves to go on about the technological trappings 
that "everyman" loves to play with. "There are so 
many toys— I mean that in the nicest, not frivolous, 
way — for us to use." For instance? At the launch of 
Sci-Fi at a cable convention in Dallas, Texas, the Sci- 
Fi booth had virtual reality (VR). "I owned the con- 
vention," Besch says, "Literally, it was the most talked- 
about thing on a convention floor of hundreds of thou- 
sands of square feet." Besch recalls an early morning 
riposte to his field of operations by an intriguing 
band of VR wannasees: "A guy shows up with two 
very big, unsmiling people beside him with devices 
in their ears. It's 8:30 in the morning, he doesn't 
want to wait in line, and he says, 'Can I play VR be- 
fore everybody else does?' It's Neil (son of George) 
Bush. He had heard about VR and wanted to try it." 
Verdict from this regular American — 
Secret Service in tow? "Loved it," says 
Besch. "Thought it was fabulous." 

Perhaps it's only poetic justice that the 
network of supreme adventure was con- 
ceived as an antidote to excruciating te- 
dium. "I was listening to a presentation 
about some cable-systems business," 
says Rubenstein. "I had a brainstorm and thought, 
'Wow, someone should do a science-fiction cable net- 
work'— even though the meeting had absolutely noth- 
ing to do with the subject." Who can say whence 
come these sparks of genius, but in this case, the 
flash came to the right person. Having a backlog of 
knowhow from running several cable systems and a 
surfeit of capital from selling them, Rubenstein and 
his wjfe and partner, Laurie Silvers, were scouting 
around for a new venue for their 
energy and cash. 

Rubenstein and Silvers 
planned a two-step approach: 
Spend a year researching the vi- 
ability of Sci- Fi and another year 
selling the idea to cable opera- 
tors. Not being science-fiction ex- 
perts, they scouted out possible 
members for an advisory board. 
Martin Greenberg, well-known sci- 
ence-fiction anthologist, was tapped for his encyc : 
pedic knowledge. "I was very excited about wh 
they were trying to do," Greenberg says. "I agrei 
with Mitch and Laurie that their idea had tremendo 
potential." Greenberg encouraged Asimov to cor 
on board. "Isaac was very enthusiastic from tl 
start," says Greenberg. "He was intrigued by tl 
educational possibilities — of using the channel to c 




a new generation of kids excited about science." Asi- 
mov in turn brought pal Roddenberry into the fold. 
"Gene said our struggles getting cable carriage with 
Sci-Fi reminded him of his days trying to get Star 
Trek to all three networks, and the only reason NBC 
finally bought it was Gene changed his pitch with 
them to say that it would be Wagon Train in space." 
Buttressed by their stellar advisory board for gen- 
re credibility and armed with a Gallup poll intimating 
that their channel would be more popular than Nick- 
elodeon and MTV, the Sci-Fi team took its show on 
the road to win over the skeptical, but essential, cable- 
system operators. "There were times we almost 
stopped," Rubenstein remembers. They had been 
working for 18 months, spending lots of money with 
no income coming in, and they didn't have a single 
nibble. "We were starting to talk seriously that this 
was perceived as too offbeat," says Rubenstein. 
Then came, as luck would have it, the Big Break: A 
one-hour meeting with cable operator Telecable (al- 
so owners of The Weather Channel) expanded into 
five hours, "Within three days they said it was one of 
the best ideas they'd ever heard and 
were making a major commitment to us," 
Rubenstein says. Then the floodgates 
opened: Operators who hadn't dismissed 
the idea but hadn't bought it either sud- 
denly got interested — no one wanted to 
be first, but plenty wanted to be second 
and third, "Now we have a hundred ca- 
operators — which is unheard of for a new chan- 
nel — and we're talking major players — Cox Cable, 
Viacom, Simmons," says a happy Rubenstein, 

A very interesting phenomenon had been happen- 
ing as they were getting started, Silvers interjects. 
"Word got out through the science-fiction fan net- 
work — a network that is very serious. The fans wrote 
us letters and sent us ideas and called cable opera- 
tors telling them to put us on; we began to feel the 




"The prospect 


In one's experi- 


much variety 


of encoun- 


ence made 


in science 


tering a reality 


movies like Die 


fiction as Is 


onscreen 


Thing memo- 


possible. 


that was no- 


ries for a life- 




where else 


time," says 
VP Kenin. The 
goal: To 


f% 


' '"T*\ 


achieve as 


fcsf-W 


JO 




Ui 




MICE WORK IF YOU CAM GET If 



"We started receiving faxes and let- 
ters literally a day after the first trade 
announcement that we had pur- 
chased the Sci-Fi Channel," says 
Jeff Kuduk, manager of human re- 
sources for the USA Networks. "How 
they found out, I don't know, but first 
the calls and faxes came trickling in, 
and then suddenly there was a tremen- 
dous flood. I've never seen anything 
like this deluge of interest in my en- 
tire career." The Sci-Fi personnel of- 
fice received well over a thousand ap- 
plications in four months—for about 
40 positions. 

But these were no ordinary stuffed- 
shirt resumes. Their remarkable quan- 
tities were matched by their extraordi- 
nary qualities. Some people sent cov- 
er letters with futuristic doodles in the 
margins; others sent envelopes with 
special-issue NASA stamps; still oth- 
ers customized their stationery with la- 
ser-printed spaceships and pasted- 
on holograms. Comic books came 
in — some that the applicant had 
worked on, others just to demonstrate 
his or her devotion to the genre. One- 
of-a-kind T-shirts emblazoned with ap- 
propriate motifs arrived. Samples of 
science -fiction writing, short stories, 



and teleplays sailed across Kuduk's 
disk. Star Trek figurines were tucked 
in along with resumes- 

"They did anything to get them- 
selves noticed," Kuduk says. Undoubt- 
edly, the most creative submission 
was a foot-tail, plush, draped-in-red- 
and-green outerspace creature with 
the applicant's resume in one hand, 
and in the other, a sign reading, 
"Hire this human or the consequenc- 
es to your planet wili be terrible. . . ." 
Even the contents of the cover letters 
were decidedly unorthodox. One aspir- 
ing Sci-Fier began his with "Greetings 
Earthling:" and went on to explain 
that he "came from a planet light- 
years ahead of this sphere you call 
'Earth,'" and yet "found It most 
amusing to work amongst this life form 
known as 'Humans.'" The author 
signed off: "Live Long and Prosper." 
This salutary sentiment was, in fact, ex- 
pressed in quite a few introductory let- 
ters, along with other snatches of Trek- 
speak and extraterrestrial double en- 
tendres: "My qualifications are out of 
this world," "I'm ready to blast off in- 
to a new career universe." One wom- 
an vowed she'd "give her right arm" — 
and enclosed a sample of same (cut 



out in cardboard silhouette) — "to be 
the Production Assistant.". 

Plenty of inquiries have come not 
in response to a particular job adver- 
tisement, but just from people — all 
kinds of people— -who are diehard 
fans and want to work for the chan- 
nel in any capacity. Letter writers ad- 
mit to being "the original Stars Wars 
trivia buff," or "the Trekkie of the cen- 
tury," or "a sc!-fi fan for as long as f 
can remember." Kuduk says that appli- 
cants come from many different back- 
grounds, not necessarily just televi- 
sion. Executives, students, house- 
wives, people in banking and insur- 
ance have written to say they're ready 
to toss their current careers aside and 
start a new life on the Sci-Fi staff. 

Right now, chances are pretty astro- 
nomical against landing a job on Sci- 
Fi. Kuduk says, "Nearly all of the ap- 
proved positions have been filled" — 
mostly by folks with strong TV experi- 
ence. Aspiring applicants, however, 
should not despair, Kuduk continues. 
"That's just the jobs for this year, 
though, Ninety-three is just around the 
corner, and if the channel really 
takes off, there willprobably be 
more positions available." Engage. 



real impact of their support in the market- 
place." SF (the abbreviation of choice 
among the science-fiction faithful) sup- 
porters began to gather in fan-club set- 
tings, spontaneously, without any direc- 
tion from the Sci-Fi Channel, to plan strat- 
egies for getting it on the air in their 
area. Soon there were a hundred fan 
clubs with several thousand members 
around the country — for an unlaunched 
network. "One of the things Gene Rod- 
denberry suggested was to hire some- 
body to answer all the fan mail," says 
Rubenstein. "He thought that was a ma- 
jor boost for Star Trek because they an- 
swered all the mail and took the fans 
seriously. We followed his advice." 

On a tour looking for financial back- 
ing, Rubenstein and Silvers ended up 
at Ihe offices of Kay Koplovitz at USA 
Network, the number-one-rated cable 
network. "We looked at Sci-Fi a couple 
of times before we decided to delve in- 
to it," Koplovitz says. "I had to satisfy 
myself that there was enough product 
to fulfill the expectations that people 
would have of a channel like this." 
Chief cheerleader was Andrew Besch. 
"I saw the marketing potential," Besch 
claims. "There were a couple of occa- 

80 OMNI 



sions when Kay called late at night and 
said, "I don't know if this thing's gonna 
work." And I kept saying, "If there's any 
way we can do it, let's do it. It's gonna 
be worth it. I feel it in my bones; this 
thing is gonna be bigger than big." 
March 30, 1992, the deal was struck, 
and the Sci-Fi Channel became fact. 

Now that it is a done deal, every life 
form on the planet is rushing to sing 
praises to the brilliance of the concept — 
and to get a little work out of it. (See 
"Nice Work" above.) "Already we have 
had so many submissions from people 
that have projects, scripts in this genre — 
and it's amazing that some of them 
come from quite traditional TV-movie pro- 
ducers," Koplovitz says. "I think there 
are a lot of people in the creative world 
who love the idea of the fantasy of Sci- 
Fi; it's seductive for them." 

Robby Benson— actor, director, writ- 
er — stars in the first made-for-Sci-Fi 
film, Homewrecker Benson says, "It's 
probably my favorite- genre. When I 
think back on the movies that I really 
remember — Dr. Strangelove, 2001 — 
they're science fiction." Benson says 
he's got a-script all ready for Sci-Fi: 
"What interests me is taking a normal 



situation and warping it in such a man- 
ner that everything is spinning in oppo- 
site directions, and the outcome of some- 
thing so familiar could be frightening." 

Sci-Fi has an ambitious, unconven- 
tional battle plan for year one, a mis- 
sion to create the total cultural environ- 
ment Roddenberry predicted. "We're 
creating a whole new world for viewers 
that they pass into when they turn on 
the channel," Koplovitz says. According 
to Besch, the producers want people 
to turn it on and say, "I am now in anoth- 
er place. I am not in anything that I re- 
motely know as a TV network." Besch 
says, "Sci-Fi should seem like it is be- 
ing controlled and programmed by 
something not of this earth." 

They plan to achieve this from the out- 
set in a number of ways. Perhaps most 
important for lending the "place" an ex- 
traterrestrial texture will be the look of 
the graphics and interstitial elements. 
Some of the best CAD cowboys and an- 
imators from California are creating the 
graphics — much of it a mesmerizing 
swirl dubbed "Liquid Television." "It's 
a bit different working on the look of an 
entire channel versus a single video pro- 
ject," says Tony Lupidi, animator at 



VIEW FROM THE TOP 



Barry Schutman, VP, programming: 

"We're going to launch with four 
original programs, and one program 
concept with the working title, Sci- 
ence Fiction News. The 
original programs are In- 
side Space, Dr. Ruehl's 
Mysteries from Beyond 
the Other Dominion, 
The Science Show, and 
Sci-Fi Insider— an ET 
magazine reality-based 
look at the world of sci- 
ence fiction. Inside 
Space, formally called 
Nasawatch, will exam- 
ine all aspects of space 
exploration — past, pres- 
ent, and future. Dr. 
Ruehl's Mysteries will ex- 
plore many of the bi- 
zarre phenomena in the world of set 




of Robby's wife and child." Did you know that Robert Redford 

TALKIN' SPACE — Larry Ross, producer; goes to all the space launches and 

Steve Feder, executive director: that Jerry Brown and John Denver are 

Ross: "I believe that sci-fi fans are big space fans?" 

very interested in space" Ross: "We're not going to explore 

not only in science-fiction/ the politics of space or the exact sci- 

faniasy films, but also in sci- ences. We're looking at the personali- 

ence fact. The future is re- ties involved in all aspects of space 



Ross: We 
really don't know 

how space 

technology has 

affected 

our lives. 



ally upon us in terms of sci- 
ence. In the next ten to 
twenty years, people will 
go into space, but they 
want to "come on board" 
now; they want to feel like 
they're doing it now." 

Feder: "Space is excit- 
ing, something that the 
viewers really do want but 
have never been given. 
Ironically, space activities 
go on today without any 



kind of coverage. With our use of tech- 
ence fiction and other Earthly oddi- nology, with our design, we intend to 
ties-— we call it 'the National Enquirer surprise and dazzle." 

Ross: "One of our goals is to get 
our audience involved through con- 
tests. For example, con- 
testants wilt be asked to 
design, a spacecraft. 
NASA will cooperate 
with us by designing the 
spacecrafts on a comput- 
er. The winner of the con- 
test will go to NASA 
where they will fly the 
craft through a simulated 
asteroid belt and the out- 
er planets." 

Feder: "All the sub- 
jects we plan to address 
have already been exam- 
ined, but we will present 
the material in a way that 
people will understand it and enjoy 



3 fiction.' The Science Show 
will investigate subjects such as the 
brain, genetics, bionics, medical 
trends, and Al. 

"For Science Fiction News, we 
have commissioned a handful of au- 
thors to create new worlds, and we 
will select one writer to develop a com- 
plete world, a society of people and 
events upon which we will base sci- 
ence-fiction news, updates based on 
this created world. 

"In the firs! year, we also will run 
twelve- new made-for-TV movies, and 
we're planning to run twelve in the sec- 
ond year. The movies will be well- 
funded, well-developed, and will en- 
compass science fact and fiction. 
The movies will utilize cutting-edge 
technology. In the first movie, 

Homewrecker, starring Robby Ben- the experience of learning. We als 
son, a computer takes on feminine will interview entertainers and show- 
characteristics and becomes jealous biz personalities, closet space fans. 



Feder: We 
are not competing 

with Nora, 
Space Ago, or PBS, 

The show 
will be different. 




exploration. The whole point of the 
show is that you'll be able to experi- 
ence what it's like to be in space, and 
experience the near future." 
Segment titles include: 
"Are We Alone? The Search for Ex- 
tra Terrestrial Life": SETI (see "First 
Word") is a project funded by the gov- 
ernment in which scientists at observa- 
tories around the world will try to 
track messages that may be coming 
in from other parts of the galaxy. The 
show is about the people who are. in- 
volved in SETI. 

"Space Mysteries" wilt delve into 
old and new mysteries — Stonehenge, 
the pyramids, and the disappearance 
of the dinosaurs, as well as our future 
in space. We will also ex- 
amine the pros and cons 
of the space plane and 
the space station. The 
space station— the vehi- 
cle that will set us up for 
the exploration of Mars 
and other planets — is up- 
on us and may be ap- 
proved in the next half of 
this year. 

In "Rock and Roll 
Space Videos," music vid- 
eos will be used to tell 
the history of space by 
cutting, say, to an Elton 
John song, "Rocket 
Man." The show is an entertainment 
vehicle — "we're not providing informa- 
tion as much as we hope to induce 
an experiential feeling," Ross says. 



Xaos, a computer graphics company 
based in San Francisco. "You can 

play around with things, have a sense 
of these images developing over time, 
not just fading out at the end of one pro- 
ject." According to Lupidi, "Liquid Tel- 
evision" is the name of an MTV show 
for which Xaos does the graphics, and 
it is also the graphic element of MTV's 
"bumpers" — logo sequences. "We can 
organically warp video, and in the 
case of image warping, we do it with 
two sets of images," Lupidi says. "The 
second image is a texturizer and is 

82 OMNI 



used to modify or warp the first image. 
You can use a rough, grainy texture or 
a smooth, slick' image — you can do a 
lot of different things." 

The spot created for the opening min- 
utes of the channel, dubbed by the 
techies as The Big Bang, "employs a 
lot of new things we've been doing in- 
tegrating model shots with animation," 
Lupidi says. Of the 40-second opening, 
The Big Bang consists of only three and 
a half seconds. "It's kind of the crea- 
tion of the -universe with an explosion, 
perhaps light-years away, with all this 



gas, light, and debris flying by. It's very 
dramatic." According to Lupidi, the open- 
ing shots include elements from 
sic science fiction — sort of as an hom- 
age to what's come before, and, as Lu- 
pidi says, "whetting your appetite foi 
the new channel." 

The choice and disposition of pro- 
grams is also somewhat unconvention- 
al. "In putting this channel togethei 
we've tried to stay away from any tra- 
ditional network thinking," Besch says. 
"When we get ideas that are based on 
what we already know, we throw them 

CONTINUED ON PAGE 112 




THE BUBBLING 
UNIVERSE 

ARTICLE BY THOMAS R. MCDONOUGH 
AND DAVID BRIN 

Our universe may be just one baby 
cosmos among many 

PHOTOGRAPH BY PETER LIEPKE 



A star dies. 

All things come to an end, 
but this sun, bigger than 
most, does so spectacularly. 
It explodes, blasting forth 
shock waves and radiation 
that sunder anything unlucky 
enough to be nearby. Brief- 
ly, the star outshines a gal- 
axy; then the ashen remnant 
sputters out. Voracious grav- 
ity clutches the former core, 
collapsing the star's heart in- 
ward on itself, faster and fast- 
er. In an instant, the relic is 
gone, vanished into a depres- 
sion, a dimple in spacetime. 
A black hole. 

It is a monstrous funnel. 
Not even light can escape its 
steep event horizon. And 
yet, unless a living star pass- 
es too close, the black hole 
sits, quietly invisible, while 
the galaxy swirls on around 
it — a sterile twist of empti- 
ness. A shell. Story over. 

But somewhere else, in an- 
other stretch of spacetime, in 
another geometric realm, the 
essence of the dying star 
has reemerged, bursting 
forth to bring about a new re- 
Syracuse University 
physicist Lee Smolin, at left, 
says the universe may 
follow some olthe same patterns 
as organic life. 



ality. A new, entire universe 
The new universe that is 
born is our own. 

Every civilization has tried to 
come up with its own expla- 
nation for the existence of ex- 
istence. Our concepts have 
evolved from powerful spirits 
of Earth and sky to the imper- 
sonal clockwork mecha- 
nisms of physics. The most 
recent creation myth, promot- 
ed by astrophysicists, is 
both simple and majestic— 
the Big Bang. Everything, 
from the lowliest quark or pho- 
ton all the way to super- 
clusters of galaxies, began 
in that first, fragmentary mo- 
ment when a microscopic 
"seed" became a titanic ex- 
plosion greater than a trillion 
supernovas — an expanding 
universe of matter and ener- 
gy and spacetime out of 
which formed every star, plan- 
et, and living thing. 

So far, evidence has over- 
whelmingly supported this 
view of the cosmic origin, 
though scientists still argue 
over the details. One detail, 



which used to be brushed 
aside, has lately been taken 
seriously: Where did the orig- 
inal seed, or "universal egg," 
come from? 

Now a young physicist 
from Syracuse University in 
upstate New York has 
reached a startling conclu- 
sion that may expand our 
view from a single universe 
into vast ecologies of count- 
less millions of universes. By 
taking the "egg" metaphor 
quite literally, professor Lee 
Smolin has deduced that our 
universe may have many of 
the trails of living things. It 
was, in a sense, born, Smo- 
lin says. It is probably laying 
cosmic eggs of its own, 
right now, from which new uni- 
verses are born to strive and 
live and die. Some of those 
universe offspring will, in 
turn, give birth to progeny. In 
each generation some "child 
universes" will differ slightly 
from their parents. As the 
generations pass, the univers- 
es change form little by lit- 
tle — in other words, evolve. 

Most of Smolin's research, 



of course, is a bit more con- 
ventional: He spends count- 
less hours at Syracuse ap- 
plying the laws of quantum 
physics to gravity. In r 
past few years, however, he 
has also spent time explor- 
ing the notion that planets, 
galaxies, and even univers- 
es might be like organisms. 
A universe may give rise to 
a number of new universes, 
throughout its individual his- 
tory, Smolin explains. "The 
process is very much like the 
mechanism of natural selec- 
tion proposed by Darwin, in 
which offspring with the 
most successful survival strat- 
egies prevail. The whole col- 
lection of universes may be 
said to Bvolve." 

In a day of wild theories — 
of parallel worlds and dramat- 
ic speculations about time 
travel — Smolin's ideas may 
seem the most extravagant 
yet. After all, we can't even 
see the farthest reaches of 
our own universe; the Hub- 
ble Space Telescope's defec- 
tive mirror fogs our view. 
How could we know of any- 



thing beyond our universe? 
In fact, doesn't the word uni- 
verse include everything 
there is, by definition? 

Not in today's cosmology, 
where what we think of as 
the universe is often regard- 
ed as a small part of a much 
vaster realm. Indeed, through- 
out history, our concept of 
the cosmos has grown in 
scale. Early hunter-gatherers 
perceived it as a few hun- 
dred kilometers wide, bound- 
ed by mountains and the 
sea. Copernicus first 
showed the earth was not 
the center of creation. Then 
Galileo revealed the Milky 
Way as filled with stars, and 
William Herschel estimated 
there were 100 million stars 
overall, a number then 
thought staggering, though 
a thousandfold short of to- 
day's estimate. More recent- 
ly, Edwin Hubble proved 
that countless billions of gal- 
axies, or "island universes," 
are rushing away from a titan- 
ic explosion that took place 
around 15 billion years ago — 
the Big Bang. In saying the 



word universe, it is to this dy- 
namic picture that we normal- 
ly refer. 

But how did the original ex- 
plosion take place? In what 
context did it happen 9 Could 
there be other universes be- 
yond our own? Until recently, 
these were the sorts of quan- 
daries physicists privately 
muttered into their beer but 
seldom discussed in public. 
Now, however, it has be- 
come respectable to ask: 
What might have happened 
before the beginning? And 
why do the laws of physics 
seem tailor-made to allow 
life to exist? 

Lee Smolin's answer may 
give the word universe a 
whole new dimension. A con- 
versation with him swiftly be- 
comes a cascade of ideas, 
thought-provoking reflec- 
tions, and glimpses of infini- 
ty, if a tenth of what he con- 
templates turns out to be 
true, humanity's view of the 
cosmos may change as pro- 
foundly as after Copernicus 
or Einstein. 

Born in New York City in 




The universe may be a 

mother, hatching baby universes that 

live and die, and, like the 

organic species of the earth, evolve. 



1955, Smolin received his 
Ph.D. from Harvard during a 
time of ferment in physics. 
Neutrino telescopes were de- 
tecting only a fraction of the 
expected number of elusive 
particles emanating from the 
sun. Astronomers were find- 
ing that most of the mass of 
the universe consists of mys- 
terious dark matter. Physi- 
cists searched fervently for a 
Theory of Everything that 
would explain a// the laws of 
nature. Accelerators re- 
vealed a bewildering zoo of 
elementary particles. 

"I was worried," says Smo- 
lin , "about the loose connec- 
tion between the various the- 
ories and experiments in ele- 
mentary particle theory. The 
theories that seem most com- 
pelling on mathematical 
grounds, unfortunately, do 
not readily yield unambig- 
uous predictions about na- 
ture. It is, therefore, general- 
ly difficult to test these theo- 
ries experimentally." 

Casting around for a way 
to test the cosmic concepts, 
Smolin took some hints from 
the work of biologists James 
Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, 
founders of the famous — ■ 
some say infamous — Gaia Hy- 
pothesis. Inspired by NASA 
efforts to detect life on other 
planets, the pair had pro- 
posed that all of the earth's 
individual animals and 
plants, as well as its oceans 
and atmosphere, seem to be- 
have as linked components 
of a single, grand organism. 
While a storm of debate still 
surrounds the Gaia notion, 
even scientific critics praise 
its usefulness in stimulating 
new research. 

"I was reading Lovelock," 



says Smolin, "and the idea 
suggested itself that if one 
can apply ideas from biolo- 
gy or ecology to understand- 
ing the whole system of the 
earth's climate, maybe some- 
thing like it could apply to cos- 
mology as well." 

Then he remembered the 
concept of baby universes, 
an outgrowth of an idea put 
forth by Albert Einstein and 
Nathan Rosen in 1935. They 
had proposed that two re- 
gions of space—or even two 
separate cosmoses — could 
be joined as if through a high- 
er dimension by a "space- 
time bridge," today called a 
wormhole. (Wormholes are fa- 
vored by the starsfiip Enter- 
prise to travel faster than 
light, though Hollywood script- 
writers are notably vague 
about describing the exact 
technology.) 

By the 1960s, the great 
American physicist John 
Wheeler expanded on the 
concept, noting that if one ap- 
plies quantum theory to the 
geometry of spacetime as de- 
scribed by Einstein's theory 
of relativity, one can con- 
clude that very tiny fluctua- 
tions in spacetime are taking 
place around us all the time. 
As a result, occasionally, a 
piece of our universe might 
bulge out, like a weak spot 
in an inner tube. Extending 
via a thin wormhole, the 
blob would stretch until the 
frail link snapped, leaving an 
isolated entity of space and 
time disconnected from our 
universe — a "baby cosmos," 
where the laws of physics 
might be quite different from 
our own. 

"I actualiy don't like that ter- 
minology," complains Smo- 



IF VOU'UE DREAMED 
OF OWNING 



the nexr EenEnnnon 

MAKE IT SO! 

For Star Trek*' fans throughout the known universe, the future has never looked brighter... 
because Star Ttvk: The ,\'?xi Generation is now available on special double-episode Collector's 
Edition videocassettes, uncut and uninterrupted, exclusively from Columbia House Video Library. I 

Your introductory video contains the exciting premiere, "Encounter at Farpoint", co-written i 
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Riker, lead the crew in a race against time to solve the mystory of the Farpoint. 
Station and escape certain execution by the alien superbeing "Q". 

Join all the extraordinary new crew members: 
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lin, "but it's fascinating thai people 
would use a biological metaphor. Any- 
way, the idea of a universe spinning off 
descendants turned out to be fruitful." 

Indeed, a few years ago, a number 
of theorists, including the American phys- 
icists Eric Baum, Sidney Coleman, and 
Andrew Strominger, and the British cos- 
mologist Stephen Hawking, proposed 
that our own universe may "give birth" 
to offspring of a sort. As far as the the- 
orists could tell, the vast majority of 
these offspring would be simple affairs — 
submicroscopic entities a billionth of a 
trillionth of a thllionth of a centimeter 
across. A great proportion would pop 
away from the parent cosmos only brief- 
ly before being reabsorbed. But a few 
might have the potential of turning into 
something much more vivid and impres- 
sive. Some physicists today believe 
such "buds" can suddenly and extrav- 
agantly "flower," turning swiftly into gi- 
gantic, rapidly expanding entities mas- 
sive enough to contain billions of gal- 
axies; each such entity would, in short, 
constitute a full-blown universe of its own. 

How could a teeny-weeny quantum 
fluctuation bootstrap itself into a full- 
fledged cosmos 7 With help, perhaps, 
from the dense, virtually inescapable 
center of a black hole. "The important 
thing determining whether a star even- 
tually turns into a black hole is its 
mass," Smolin explains. Only those 
much more massive than our sun ex- 
plode into supernovas. In some cases, 
the remnant is a dense core the size of 
Manhattan— known as a neutron star. 
But in rare cases, the gravitational 
force is so great that the star collapses 
unstoppably toward what physicists 
call a black hole, a region of space in 
which the gravitational field has be- 
come go strong that nothing, not even 
light, can escape. 

According to the theory of general rel- 
ativity, the density of matter and ener- 
gy becomes infinite deep within a 
black hole. Physicists call the place 
where this happens a singularity. 
Since the theory predicts the existence 
of such ah unlikely region, many physi- 
cists feel the theory must be incom- 
plete. Luckily, a number of physicists, 
including John Wheeler, have pointed 
out that just before the density of mat- 
ter and energy become infinite, tiny fluc- 
tuations in the geometry of space and 
time would prevent the singularity from 
forming. How would they do this? By 
growing, quite suddenly, into a baby uni- 
verse, a universe that would start to ex- 
pand just before matter in the black 
hole reached the point of singularity. 

Does this mean that we are living in- 
side a black hole? "If this idea is right, 
yes," Smolin states. "The idea that I and 
se OMNI 



others have proposed is that our uni- 
verse could have grown from the inside 
of a black hole belonging to another uni- 
verse." Our universe, in turn, could it- 
self be spinning off tiny "eggs," some 
of them developing into full-scale, ma- 
ture universes, and so on. 

But could these "reproducing" uni- 
verses take on yet another character- 
istic of organic life — could they evo/vS? 
Smolin thought he saw a way. 

His reasoning went like this: If rules 
operating in the parent cosmos were 
translated to the child, daughter univers- 
es might resemble their mothers. In oth- 
er words, baby universes might have 
something like genes. If the character- 
istics changed slightly from generation 
to generation, just as genes mutate 
from generation to generation, the de- 
scended universes might slowly 
change their characteristics. In other 
words, they would evolve. 



4The best 
place to hatch a 

baby 

universe may be 

the 

dense, inescapable 

center 

of a black hole. 9 



Smolin then found candidate 

"genes" in what author Frederik Pohl 
calls the Gosh Numbers — numerical con- 
stants that help to define the physical 
laws controlling our universe. About 17 
of these special numbers, known as fun- 
damental constants, lie at the root of all 
physics. For example, the mass of the 
proton is a Gosh Number. Newton's con- 
stant, setting the strength of the gravi- 
tational field, is a Gosh (Number. So is 
Planck's constant, controlling quantum 
behavior in atoms. "People find," says 
Smolin, "that if the values of the con- 
stants were changed by not very large 
amounts, the properties of the universe 
would be very, very different." 

Smolin was particularly intrigued be- 
cause many of the Gosh Numbers 
turned out to be necessary not just for 
the existence of stars, but for biologi- 
cal life as well. One such special value 
was noted by controversial British as- 
trophysicist and science-fiction novel- 
ist Sir Fred Hoyle. In 1954— the year be- 
fore Smolin was born — Hoyle drew at- 
tention to the story of carbon, the ele- 



ment crucial to making the organic mol- 
ecules essentia 1 bi terrestrial life. All car- 
bon was originally forged inside stars, 
he noted, by fusing together three heli- 
um nuclei. The energy of the colliding 
nuclei had to be just right in order for 
abundant quantities of carbon to be pro- 
duced. Had this energy value been 
just slightly lower or slightly higher, 
Hoyle mused, "the rate of carbon pro- 
duction would be so slow that very lit- 
tle would exist in the world. . . ." Life 
as we know it could not be. 

The point, says Smolin, is that the 
Gosh Numbers determining physical 
laws may function somewhat like 
genes. When an old universe gives 
rise to a new one, the physical laws^- 
as determined by the Gosh Numbers — 
change slightly and randomly, the 
same way that genes change when 
they mutate within biological organisms 
from one generation to the next. In bio- 
logical organisms, and in universes, 
adds Smolin, those characteristics 
that enhance the ability to reproduce 
and thrive are passed on. Those traits 
that make reproduction and survival 
more difficult fade away. 

"Let me start from the chicken rath- 
er than from the egg," says Smolin, car- 
rying the biology metaphor further. "The 
universe exists; it has certain parame- 
ters, certain laws. It also makes a num- 
ber of black holes, which lead to new 
universes, each having parameters 
close to those of the parent universe but 
slightly changed. Each of those new uni- 
verses then has more progeny through 
more black holes, and so on and so 
forth. Mow after a while, you have lots 
and lots of universes. You have a 
whole collection of them." 

If this lifelike image is right and 
black holes can be likened to "universe 
eggs," then a cosmos that forms many 
big stars (which can become black 
holes) will have more offspring than a 
cosmos where physical laws are less 
friendly to stellar formation. The trait of 
star making will be passed on and grow 
more efficient with each generation. 

"And that's where we come in," Smo- 
lin continues. "Because if you make 
stars, you can also make carbon and 
oxygen and lots of other good things, 
like planets. And a universe with plan- 
ets around stars containing abundant 
amounts of carbon and oxygen is a uni- 
verse hospitable to life." We may owe 
our very existence to the fact that uni- 
verses need stars and black holes if 
they're going to reproduce! 

Smolin admits with good-natured hu- 
mor that this is extravagant speculation, 
yet he hopes to someday push this pow- 
erful notion from the realm of mere con- 
jecture to a bona-fide theory. "If the 



idea's ever to be real science, then it 
has to be tested." He suggests one way 
that might happen. "If you change ■ 
some of the physical parameters, say 
the masses of quarks or the electron, 
the number of black holes produced by 
the universe should go down." In other 
words, if our universe is the product of 
countless generations of refinement, it 
should already be very close to opti- 
mum at making these potent spacetime 
funnels. Any substantial change in our 
Gosh Numbers should have the effect 
of reducing the number of black holes 
our universe is able to produce. 

"Current astrophysical knowledge," 
says Smolin, "is not yet good enough 
to test the idea." With future observa- 
tions, however, and a growing under- 
standing of stellar physics, there is a rea- 
sonable chance that in a few years, we 
may be able to build a model of our 
galaxy in a supercomputer, tweak the 
numbers, and then see if our cosmos 
really is close to an ideal breeder of 
new universes. 

Some scientists, of course, are skep- 
tical. California Institute of Technology 
physicist John Preskill, author of such 
papers as "Wormholes in Spacetime 
and the Constants ot Nature," for in- 
stance, says, "I have to admit that it's 
intriguing and fun to think about, but as 
I suppose Smolin would concede, it's 
something that he just made up." In Smo- 
lin's defense, Preskill adds, the Cosmic 
Egg theory does lead to certain predic- 
tions that can "at some point in the fu- 
ture be tested by scientists." 

While waiting for the tests, Lee Smo- 
lin has lately been investigating a dar- 
ing new proposal — that just as the 
earth may be compared to a living or- 
ganism, a la the Gaia hypothesis, the 
galaxy may be "alive" in a sim 
sense. Earth, in the Gaia view, sustains 
life through a series of interrelated feed- 
back loops. In one of these loops, for 
instance, plants produce an oxygen- 
rich atmosphere crucial for sustaining 
animal life. The animals, in turn, pro- 
duce carbon dioxide needed for the sur- 
vival of the plants. Yet other feedback 
loops maintain terrestrial temperature 
suitable for the sustenance of life. 

Similarly, says Smolin, spiral galax- 
ies like the Milky Way may represent a 
Gaia-like ecology of gas, dust, and 
stars. "A galaxy is a system for govern- 
ing the rate of star formation," he con- 
jectures. "One sees a large amount of 
gas and dust and star formation that is 
a continual process." Further, t 
amount of gas and dust being turned 
into stars is roughly equal to the rate at 
which stars are ejecting material back 
into the galaxy through supernova e 
plosions or stellar winds. "Within a hu 




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drod million years, the spiral arms will 
consist of completely different material 
and different stars. But the pattern will 
remain. 'What is it that allows this pat- 
tern to continually reform?" The answer, 
Smolin suggests, may be that our Milky 
Way has evolved into a harmonious, self- 
regulating, superorganism, much like 
the planet Earth. To test the hypothe- 
Smolin suggests, researchers 
must seek mechanisms in galaxies 
that work like those keeping Earth's bi- 
osphere stable. 

A basic researcher with faith in the 
scientific method of experimentation to 
verify theory as fact, Smolin admits his 
ideas could be mere "grand fantasies." 
Like many of the theories proposed by 
physicists today, the notion of the Cos- 
mic Egg fits the description of Nobel lau- 
reate Hannes Alfven, who once said 
that modern -cosmology is reminiscent 
of ancient Indian myths with turtles stand- 
on top of turtles atop other turtles 
ad infinitum. "Very beautiful fairy 
tales/' he called them, until they are prov- 
i true. 

In other words, given the prevailing 
confusion and dissension among phys- 
icists today, Smolin's new mind-bend- 
ing, revolutionary concept seems right 
at home. And if his "spare time" spec- 
ulation proves correct, Darwinism will ap- 
ply not just to organic life forms, but 
over megacosmic dimensions as well. 
Perhaps we owe our existence, and the 
convenient perfection of our physical 
laws, to the trial-and-error evolution of 
untold generations of prior universes, a 
chain of mother-and-child cosmoses, 
each of them spawned in the nurturing 
depths of black holes. 

The next decsidt ■.-■, ;li see many chanc- 
es to test competing theories. Two gi- 
ant Keck optical telescopes will be op- 
erating in Hawaii. The Hubble space tel- 
escope will have its prescription fixed. 
A satellite named COBE will continue 
measuring the microwave echo of the 
Big Bang itself. And supercomputers 
II boldly take astronomers through cal- 
culations they have been unable to per- 
form before. Meanwhile, Lee Smolin him- 
self is writing a book about his ideas, 
with the modest title, On the Universal- 
ity of Life. 

Einstein would probably have shak- 
en his head and reiterated his dictum 
that "God does not play dice with the 
universe." But Stephen Hawking's 
famed retort captures the spirit of Smo- 
lin's theory: "God not only plays dice, 
he also sometimes even throws the 
dice where they cannot be seen." 

Into another universe, perhaps? 
Like the rest of us, the ultimate cosmic 
Creator may rely on the ever-fruitful, ev- 
er-renewing craft of motherhood. DO 






COSMOLOGIES IN CONFLICT 



^m 



Providing universal 
views, the 
Hubble Space tele- 
scope captures 
a nearby galaxy and 
distant quasars, 
above. Tbe spectrum 
of cosmic bach- 
ground radiation is 
shown at right. 
At bottom, Irom left 
to right, high- 
lech imaging devices 
focus on a giant 
galaxy, a star cluster 
in the 30 Dora- 
dus Nebula, a neutrino 

Article 
By Dennis Overhye 



ewhat witty article in discovered that the galaxies d 

itific journal Nature are all flying from each other the Big Bang. "Astronomers' 

last year, summarizing what as if the universe itself were ex- New Data Jolt Vital Part of Big 

they say is overwhelming evi- panding. The Big Bang has be- 

dence thai the universe began come as central and indispen- 

n years sable to cosmology as evolu- t 



unremarka- inviting a target for th 

uk llc ,<n iu w»i>,/ readers. Af- think they have a serious b 

ter all, the so-called Big Bang to pick with rr-- J - 

has been part of cultural mytho- Re ' 








er. All through II 
could read wry artii 




History of Time. 

But this spring, the Big 
Bang was ascendant again on 




s said, were 
the very seeds of the stars and 
galaxies that spangle the mod- 
ern night sky and showed th. 




ic matter or energy linger in the 
knots have tangled spacetime 



'from a supernova, 
an infrared image of a 
supernova in the 
spiral galaxy, and a 
thin sheet ol 
gas at the edge of the 
Orion Nebula. 
The picture at left on 
this page shows 
the large-scale distri- 
bution of galaxies 



As COBE 
ia death of the Big Bang 
was greatly exaggerated. For 
real cosmologists, t 
the major question it... 
er the Big Bang ever oc 
but rather, how. Physic 



,.ical techniques, astro, ^ 

mers have been able to test 
those predictions and find 
them slightly, but unmistaka- 
bly, wrong. 
Cosmology, the study of the 



ter and energy whisker of etern 

were created in that fiery begin- have m 



. . quest, but it is 
young science. So young, in 
. st, that some of its 
titioners have trout 
hin a bering that they h. 
/ itself, and tific excuse to be talking 
ngly pre- about the first microseconds of 





near the south galac- 
tic pole. Directly 
above Is our own gal- 
axy, as produced 
by an infrared astro- 
nomical telescope. 



dentists' theories of the universe reach within a whisker of eternity, but are they correct? 



time as if they were flipping through a 
family album. "Astronomy is not astrol- 
ogy," Jim Peebles the Princeton cosmol- 
ogist told me once, "and we do make 
progress." But cosmology is not 
straight physics or chemistry either. The 
universe is our home; the Big Bang is 
our patriarchy, our mythology, and a 
challenge to it produces more threat- 
ening (or promising) reverberations 
than, say, an argument about the evo- 
lution of clamshells. 

The radical notion that there even 
was a Big Bang — that the universe had 
a certifiable beginning— was born out 
of Hubble's discovery that galaxies all 
seem to be rushing outward as if they 
were shards from a giant primordial 
explosion. Back in 1929, Hubble found 
that the light from all but the very clos- 
est galaxies was shifted toward lower, 
redder, frequencies, the way the 
sound of a receding automobile 
sounds lower in pitch. The more distant 
a galaxy, the greater its so-called red- 
shift, and thus, the faster it seemed to 
be moving away. According to Hubble, 
the motion of the galaxies, as defined 
by their redshifts, implies that a few bil- 
lion years ago they had all been togeth- 
er at the same point in space. 

Hubble's law found support in Ein- 
stein's theory of relativity, which held 
that spacetime itself was exploding, car- 
rying the galaxies along like surfers on 
an ever-growing wave or like raisins on 
a cake. More evidence for the universe 
according to Hubble emerged in the 
decades that followed, as astronomers 
extended their measurements billions of 
light-years out into space and found 
that the basic relationship between dis- 
tance and redshift remained intact, 

And there is other evidence for this 
ultimate beginning of beginnings as 
well in the form of cosmic background 
radiation, a faint uniform microwave 
hiss that permeates the sky. The back- 
ground radiation was first discovered by 
accident in 1965. Measurements over 
the years have found that it has the pre- 
cise thermal properties characteristic of 
a fading primordial fireball — in short, 
that the background radiation in some 
way is the Big Bang itself. 

Using the microwave background to 
deduce the temperature and density of 
the presumptive primordial fireball, as- 
trophysicists have gone on to calculate 
just how much helium, deuterium, and 
other light elements it's likely to have pro- 
duced. Their results agree strikingly 
with the abundance of these elements 
measured in old stars and in interstel- 
lar space. The same calculations also 
predict no more than four families of ele- 
mentary particles — a prediction that 
was spectacularly verified three years 

94 OMNI 



ago at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, 
and at Stanford. 

Finalry, and intriguingly, there are 
three different ways to estimate the age 
of the universe — the rate of cosmic ex- 
pansion, the ages of the oldest stars, 
and the ages of radioactive elements — 
and they each give roughly the same 
answer: between 10 and 20 billion 
years. As Allan Sandage of Carnegie Ob- 
servatories, who as Hubble's protege 
has spent his life measuring the cos- 
mos, is fond of pointing out, there is no 
reason why those answers should 
agree — one could have been trillions of 
years, the other thousands. It's either a 
coincidence or a clue that the universe 
really did have a beginning. 

The statement that the universe be- 
gan is not the end of cosmological mys- 
tery, however; it is only the beginning, 
a gateway to more questions. What 
caused the Big Bang? Will the universe 



4Why does 
the universe look like 
it does, with 
huge clouds and chains 
of stars 
strung like Christmas- 
tree lights 
across the blackness?? 



expand forever, or is there enough 
mass for gravity to drag the galaxies 
back together one day in a "big 
crunch?" How did the universe come to 
look the way it does, almost but not 
quite- homogeneous with huge clouds 
and chains of stars strung like Christ- 
mas-tree lights across the blackness? 

In pursuit of the answers to these 
more ambitious questions, astronomy un- 
derwent a sort of Darth Vadaresque rev- 
olution in the early 1980s in which the 
most important thing about the universe 
became not what astronomers could 
see, but what they could not see — 
dark matter. 

That there was more to the sky than 
meets the eye had been apparent 
since the 1920s when Fritz Zwicky, a Cal- 
tech astronomer, concluded that clus- 
ters of galaxies must contain large 
amounts of invisible mass in order to pro- 
vide the gravitational glue that kept 
their members from flying away; he 
called it "missing mass." Forty years lat- 
er, painstaking observations by Vera Ru- 
bin of the Carnegie Institution in Wash- 



ington, DC, and other astronomers 
showed that stars in spiral galaxies 
were whirling around too fast to be 
kept in their orbits by the gravity of the 
visible masses of the galaxies. The spi- 
dery curls of light photographed by 
great telescopes, like the tips of ice- 
bergs, it seemed, were only the visible 
centers of much vaster and more mas- 
sive clouds of invisible something. The 
older generations of astronomers tend- 
ed to react to this development as if it 
were their worst nightmare. "I hope the 
missing mass isn't there," bluntly said 
Jesse Greenstein, patriarch of the Cal- 
tech astronomers, long after, unfortunate- 
ly, the data showed that it was. 

The missing mass, called dark mat- 
ter, was embraced more enthusiastical- 
ly by the younger astronomers and par- 
ticle physicists who were constantly drift- 
ing into cosmology and had less emo- 
tionally at stake in the old universe. Dark 
matter, they realized, might provide the 
extra mass needed to slow and even- 
tually halt the expansion of the uni- 
verse — a result preferred by many of 
the younger theorists for its mathemat- 
ical aesthetics. Moreover, if dark mat- 
ter comprised most of the universe, 
then it might be dark matter that 
formed the gravitational molds for gal- 
axies. The secret to the large-scale struc- 
ture of the universe might lie in the dy- 
namics of dark matter. 

Emboldened, and armed with ambi- 
tious new theories of particle physics, 
these cosrnologists have spent the past 
20 years blazing backward in time, like 
archaeologists burrowing through lay- 
ers of debris at a dig, extrapolating and 
reconstructing cosmic history farther 
and farther back, closer and closer to 
the Big Moment. By the end of the 
1980s, the semiofficial history of the uni- 
verse — a version of the Big Bang 
known technically as the inflationary- 
cold-dark-matter model — reached all 
the way to the first trillionth of a trillionth 
of a trillionth of a second of time. This 
so-called standard model answered 
questions you might not have thought 
to ask about the universe, such as why 
there is matter, why the universe 
seems the same in every direction, and 
why the night is spangled with galax- 
ies. Dark matter was a key ingredient. 

This putative cosmic history began 
with a quantum twitch in some kind of 
an eternal nothing for which physicists 
do not yet have words, and manifest- 
ed itself in an expanding stew of ener- 
gy and particles, incomparably hot, 
dense, and enfolded more delicately 
than a rose with possibility. As the uni- 
verse cooled, the laws of physics lost 
their initial symmetry and unity and by 
stages became more variegated. At 



some point early on, a strange energy 
known as the "false vacuum" propelled 
the cosmic expansion into exponential 
overdrive. This brief episode, dubbed 
inflation by its inventor or discoverer, 
Alan Guth, would have erased all the 
irregularities and chaos of the original 
Big Bang. But quantum fluctuations in 
the false vacuum produced slight un- 
dulations in the distribution of matter 
and energy after inflation ended. 

These undulations are crucial to cos- 
mologists and the universe because, ac- 
cording to the model, they formed the 
gravitational scaffolding for the galax- 
ies, gathering clouds of dark matter 
around them for the next billion years 
□r so. Eventually, ordinary matter 
mixed in with the dark stuff and would 
cool off, sinking to the centers of the 
clouds and coalescing into galaxies. 

For the last decade, cosmologists 
have spent much of their energy trying 
to figure out the identity of the dark mat- 
ter. Early speculation centered on neu- 
trinos, spooky subatomic particles 
known to have been created by the 
bucketful in the Big Bang. But neutri- 
nos soon failed computer simulation 
tests. They were so light that they trav- 
eled nearly at the speed of light— far too 
fast to spawn individual galaxies. 

Fortunately, the same theories that 
produced such wonders as inflation al- 
so predicted that the Big Bang would 
spew other particles similar to neutrinos, 
but slower and therefore better suited 
to making galaxies. These prospective 
avatars of the new physics went by 
such names as photinos, gravitinos, 
and axions. Collectively, they were 
known as "cold" dark matter to distin- 
guish them from the speedy neutrinos, 
which were "hot." 

As the 1980s unwound, cosmology 
became a three-cornered game of 
catch between the particle physicists, 
the theorists who built imaginary univers- 
es out of these particles, and the ob- 
servers mapping galaxies to get a pic- 
ture of the real structure of the universe. 
At first, cold dark matter seemed to be 
the right stuff. Thrust into the playing 
field of inflation in computer simulations, 
it whipped up objects that resembled 
galaxies. Moreover, these galaxies 
showed a tendency to clump into 
small groups, just like galaxies in the 
real universe. 

Cold dark matter, combined with the 
physics of inflation, quickly became a 
kind of "standard model" of the uni- 
verse, but there were a lot of things it 
didn't explain. For example, precursors 
of the dramatic structures of the present- 
day universe should have been evident 
as little hot spots in the microwave back- 
ground, which dates from when the uni- 

96 OMNI 



verse was but a hundred thousand 
years old. Yet measurements taken over 
the years had failed to find any devia- 
tion from bland uniformity. 

Perhaps most significant was cold 
dark matter's inability to form very 
large structures. The sky is speckled 
with large clusters containing thou- 
sands of galaxies. And each cluste.r 
seems suggestively grouped into even 
larger structures: vast arcs and sheets 
enfolding voids estimated to be hun- 
dreds of millions of light-years across. 
Theories based on the existence o1 
cold dark matter could not account for 
such huge structures even though 
tronomical observers, like proud fisher- 
men, kept bringing them in. 

Co Id-dark- matter aficionados down- 
played the significance of these discov- 
eries. Were they real or illusions? Sup- 
pose, said Nick Kaiser, an extroverted 
Brit with a taste for loud shirts and punk- 



6The seven 

Samurai found a great 

chunk of 

universe sliding 

sideways, 

moving at 500 miles a 

second 

toward the south. 9 



ish haircuts, that the so-called voids 
were not really empty but just dark, full 
of low-density clouds of gas and dark 
matter that didn't have the gravitation- 
al oomph to light up with stars. In this 
view of things, the dramatic-looking 
large-scale structure painstakingly chart- 
ed by red shi ft observers was something 
of an illusion, "just painted on" a more 
uniform background of dark matter. Not 
only did this reconcile the observations, 
sort of, with galaxy-formation theory and 
the simulations, but it gave theorists an 
extra place (most of the universe actu- 
ally) to hide the dark mass needed to 
recontract, or close, the currently ex- 
panding universe. 

Then came the Seven Samurai and 
the ground began slowly to slide out 
from cold dark matter. The Seven Sam- 
urai were an international group of as- 
tronomers centered at Lick Observato- 
ry at the University of California, Santa 
Cruz, who surveyed the distances and 
redshift velocities of several hundred el- 
liptical galaxies in 1985, and what they 
found astonished everybody: A chunk 



of universe roughly 500 million light- 
years across and containing roughly 
100,000 galaxies was not only expand- 
ing, but also sliding sideways. This 
great expanse of the cosmos, it turned 
out, was being pulled at the rate of 500 
miles per second towards a particular- 
ly large concentration of galaxies and 
clusters in the direction we call south. 

The Samurai work created pandemo- 
nium when it was announced at a 
small cosmological meeting in Hawaii 
in 1986. Clearly the voids and chains 
of superclusters were not illusions after 
all, not greasepaint, but real. It meant 
that the universe was truly uneven, 
bulked up like a zealous weightlifter on 
something stronger than cold dark mat- 
ter. Alan Dressier, a Samurai from the 
Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, 
dubbed whatever was doing this pull- 
ing the Great Attractor. 

Everybody agreed that the Great At- 
tractor was on the hairy edge of what 
was possible in a universe of cold dark 
matter. Analyzing and reanalyzing the 
Samurai data, which were voluminous 
and beset by observational uncertain- 
ties, became a cottage industry. Dur- 
ing 1987 and 1988, the Great Attractor 
grew more or less great depending on 
who was doing the analysis; cold dark 
matter's stock rose and sank. Adding 
to the theorists' discomfort and the ob- 
servers' delight was a growing list of gal- 
axies and quasars with very high red- 
shifts, indicating that these objects be- 
longed to the first 4 billion years of time. 
That was, according to the standard the- 
ory, too early for galaxies to have 
formed in any number. ■ 

The burning question was: Were 
these typical of other galaxies in the uni- 
verse or exceptions? The theory, insist- 
ed cold-dark-matter hardliners like Kais- 
er or Marc Davis, could always be 
stretched to include a few extraordinary 
overachievers. We need numbers, 
they kept saying, not just pictures to 
point at. 

In search of better statistics, many ob- 
servers turned to a list of galaxies com- 
piled by IRAS, the Infrared Astronomy 
Satellite. After studying 2,163 galaxies 
out to a distance of about 500 million 
light-years, a group led by Oxford as- 
tronomer Will Saunders concluded 
that superclusters and voids were in- 
deed common phenomena, too com- 
mon for the prevailing theory. Writing in 
the journal Nature in January 1991, 
they concluded that "there is more struc- 
ture on large scales than is predicted 
by the standard cold-dark-matter theo- 
ry of galaxy formation." 

Since the group included several 
high priests of cold dark matter, the re- 
port had enormous impact— in fact, 



more than was intended. There is a dif- 
ference between cold dark matter, the 
material that apparently floats around 
galaxies, and cold dark matter in the gal- 
axy-formation mode. The latter — some- 
times abbreviated CDM — had become 
a code word'for a whole set of assump- 
tions that included not only the invisi- 
ble clouds, but also inflation and little 
quantum wrinkles in spacetime from 
which the clouds grew. It was theory, 
not the material, that failed the QDOT 
test, but that distinction seemed lost in 
the ruckus. To some, it seemed like a 
short step from doubting cold dark mat- 
ter to doubting the Big Bang itself. 

The New York Times, the newspaper 
ol record, reported on its front page, "A 
critical element of the widely accepted 
Big Bang theory about the origin and 
evolution of the universe is being dis- 
carded by some of its staunchest ad- 
vocates, throwing the field of cosmolo- 
gy into turmoil." Syndicated to other 
newspapers around the world, this ba- 
sic story was translated into headlines 
such as "Big Bang Blown to Pieces" in 
the Denver Post. 

These reports appalled the cosmol- 
ogists. As it happened, while these head- 
lines were appearing (and hostilities 
were erupting in the Persian Gulf), the 
cosmologists were gathering in Aspen 
for a week-long meeting. I found them 
in a combative mood. "Publicity is one 
of the crosses we have io bear," 
groaned Peebles, who announced 
that he and a few others were writing a 
rebuttal to the recent brouhaha. "Just 
because we can't predict tornadoes," 
argued David Schramm, a University of 
Chicago astrophysicist, "doesn't mean 
the earth isn't round." 

Aside from the Big Bang, however, 
even Peebles and Schramm were will- 
ing to concede that much of what had 
passed for theoretical orthodoxy in the 
last ten years was now up for grabs. "It 
was oversold; CDM [cold dark matter] 
never deserved to be called a standard 
model," Peebles griped. 

Despite the theoretical uncertainty, 
however, one thing that cosmology is 
probably not going to lack in the next 
few years is more evidence. More embar- 
rassments to theory are bound to 
come from the Hubble Space Tele- 
scope, the Keck Telescope in Hawaii, 
NASA's new Gamma Ray observatory, 
the orbiting German-Anglo-American RO- 
SAT X-ray observatory, and other new 
instruments being built. "The Eighties 
were the decade of ah initio theories," 
Peebles adds. "The Nineties are going 
to be the decade of phenomenology." 

One of the major pieces of phenom- 
enology, which Peebles and other cos- 
mologists were anxiously awaiting, was 



to be the COBE satellite's sensitive tem- 
perature measurements of the cosmic 
microwave background. Since the back- 
ground radiation is, in effect, a portrait 
of the early universe, it should, accord- 
ing to theory, bear some traces of the 
clumpy universe that has since evolved. 
Twenty years of searching, however, 
had detected no trace of dumpiness in 
the background radiation. As COBE, 
launched in 1989, began spinning 
across the sky, advocates of inflation 
were particularly anxious: After all, if 
quantum fluctuations (made possible by 
inflation) were the original seeds of the 
galaxies, then variation in the micro- 
wave background should be there. 

In April, COBE scientists announced 
that they had finally detected variation 
in the microwave background. It was as 
if, on a vastly overexposed baby pho- 
tograph, one could discern in the near- 
ly sheet-white emulsion faint hints of 



60n the 

vastly overexposed 

photo of 

the baby universe, one 

could discern 
the familiar, grown-up 

face of 
the universe today, 9 



gray tracing the features of a familiar, 
grown-up face, the face of today's uni- 
verse. Cosmologists worldwide 
breathed an enormous sigh of relief. 

Was this proof of inflation? Hardly. 
Other theories also produce fluctuations 
with similar characteristics. It would 
have been bigger news if COBE had 
not seen fluctuations. Moreover, COBE's 
antennas could only measure the wid- 
est angular scales; the fluctuations 
that presumably collapsed into galax- 
ies are finer grained and await study by 
other instruments. 

Finally, the temperature fluctuations 
measured by COBE were about twice 
as strong as the standard inflation the- 
ory predicts. At a recent workshop in 
Princeton, says Princeton astronomer 
Ed Turner, cosmologists were divided 
on what this meant. Does it mean the 
standard model is almost there and 
with a little fine-tuning will work perfect- 
ly? Or will cosmologists have to go 
back to the drawing board? 

Turner points out that Aristotle was 
once very close to satisfying all the con- 



ditions necessary to prove his notion 
that everything revolved in circles 
around the earth. Ptolemy then "fixed" 
the theory by adding epicycles— extra 
loops — to the planetary orbits, and cos- 
mology went down the wrong path for 
a thousand years until Copernicus be- 
gan to convince people that the earth 
and the planets went around the sun. 
"The big question in cosmology is," 
says Turner, "Is this like the epicycle 
era?" Cosmologists, he predicts, will be 
scrufinizing the microwave background 
for the next hundred years." 

Cosmologists, goes the old saying, 
are often wrong but never in doubt. Giv- 
en the fate of CDM, for example, one 
might wonder whether it's worth mas- 
tering the next generation of theory 
since it, too, may turn out not to be 
true, What's the point in all this thrash- 
ing and disappointment, this erection 
and demolition of grand theories — ca- 
thedrals of the mind? The great obser- 
vational cosmologist Allan Sandage is 
fond of saying that science on the fron- 
tier is always wrong. 

The fact that cosmologists are often 
wrong, however, does not mean that 
they are not scientists, or even that ev- 
erything they say is wrong. They are not 
wrong, for example, about the Big 
Bang in any easily foreseeable way; 
they are undoubtedly wrong in some un- 
foreseeable way. 

Cosmologists have no choice but to 
seek the truth under the provisional 
light of the Big Bang. That there is 
some truth to be found, that there are 
knowable laws that govern the universe, 
is an even more miraculous assump- 
tion, but it is that faith that makes sci- 
ence possible. Like good bridge play- 
ers, cosmologists have to play their 
cards as if there were a way to win. 

The Big Bang is not the end of cos- 
mological mystery; it is only a door to 
greater mystery. What, we might ask, is 
physics? Why should there be such a 
thing as a universe,, or as space and 
time? What are they made of, these fun- 
damental but seemingly vulnerable and 
fragile constructions? According to in- 
flation theory, the variations measured 
by COBE are relics from quantum fluc- 
tuations during the first trillionlh of a tril- 
lionth of a trillionth of a second. Physi- 
cists have torn their hair out for most of 
the century wondering why nature 
should hinge on something as weird as 
quantum theory and quantum fluctua- 
tions. The answer is perhaps to make 
galaxies, and thus us, That something 
as small and ephemeral as a quantum 
fluctuation could grow into something 
as lordly as a galaxy might make us won- 
der whether we are all, in fact, such 
stuff as dreams are made of. DO 



RJTERVIEUU 



| On the fifth floor of Boston's Computer Muse- 
sits a massive hand-cranked computer 

I made entirely out of fishing line and 10,000 
wooden Tinkertoy parts. The computer is designed to play tic-tac-toe and has yet to lose a 
game. A visitor peering into the device, whose labyrinthine workings suggest the inside of a 
piano extended into higher dimensions, quickly assumes that its creator has an obsession with 
complexity. That assumption would be correct. The machine was conceived and popped to- 
gether by Danny Hillis and an MIT colleague in their student days. Hillis went on to start the 
brashly named Thinking Machines Corporation in 1983, a supercomputer company in Cambridge, 
Massachusetts. The company's premier product is a huge, ominous, zigzag of sleek boxes in 
Darth Vader black. The expandable assembly, called Connection Machine 5, can contain 64,000 
small, cheap, chip-based computers— or microprocessors — all connected to work in parallel, 
In the mid Eighties, most computer experts dismissed such massively parallel computers as 
hopelessly unworkable toys, about as useful as hand-cranked tic-tac-toe machines. The par- 



"If every time 

one of your neurons 

broke down t 

replaced it, in a 

century your 

brain might be ail 

transistors. 

You'd still have as 

much soul as 

you ever did," says 

the thinking 

man who's putting 

the soul in 

new machines. 

PHOTOGRAPHS BY 
PAUIA LERNER 




agons of supercomputerdom, they agreed, were the high-powered, liquid-cooled, one-job-at-a- 
time machines built by Cray Research. In 1980, Crays accounted for nine-tenths of the super- 
computer market. 

No longer. Connection Machines have won a series of industry speed tests, and the experts 
have adroitly changed their tune, A New York Times story recently announced that the parallel- 
versus-sequential debate in the supercomputer world has ended "in a stunning consensus": 
The future ot sequential supercomputing is dead; long live parallelism. Oil and aerospace giants 
like Mobil and Lockheed, the Pentagon's star warriors, and university research labs now run 
many of their biggest jobs on Connection Machines. IBM announced it wants its machines to 
be Connection Machine-compatible. The tinkered-together toy has become a high-performance 
workhorse. And someday, Danny Hillis predicts, with more and faster processors, parallel c 
puters may outsmart the human brain. 

W. Daniel Hillis, 36, has always been a tink- 
erer. As a child, he built a home robot using I 
paint cans, light bulbs, and a rotisserie mo- I 



DANNY HILLIS 



"Like electricity, your demand for computation fluctuates wildly. A network will tie your 
desktop computer into a shared Connection Machine somewhere, say, down at City Hall." 



tor. Reading Robert Heinlein's Have 
Spacesuit Will Travel inspired him to en- 
roll at MIT where he tried with mixed 
success to build a robot finger before 
abandoning the maddening friction of 
mechanics for the cerebral fluidity of 
electronics. A habitue of the school's leg- 
endary Artificial Infe liqence Lab, Hillis 
earned his Ph.D. in 1988. His doctoral 
project was the forerunner of the Con- 
nection Machine. Hillis' wife Rati is a tink- 
erer of a different sort: She redesigned 
an eighteenth-century corkscrew and is 
now trying to market it. They recently 
adopted newborn identical twins, "Per- 
fect for controlled experiments," accord- 
ing to Hillis. 

Doug Stewart interviewed the com- 
puter maker at his corner office overlook- 
ing the Charles River and Beacon Hill. 
Hillis is outgoing and philosophical 
with the low-key, slightly mischievous 
manner of a perpetual college student. 
His informality extends from his work at- 
tire (shorts, sneakers) to his office de- 
cor (toys on every surface). A wood- 
framed blackboard filling one wall was 
covered with matrices and equations, 
Stewart noticed, except for two nota- 
tions: "$30m" and "$250m." Clearly, 
this was not some college cIe 



Omni: Why did you name your compa- 
ny Thinking Machines? 
Hillis: We wanted a dream we weren't 
going to outgrow. Building a thinking ma- 
chine has always been a personal 
dream of mine, and my conception of 
the Connection Machine was part of 
that. I like to say I want to make 



puter that will be proud of me. 
Omni: So tell us, how does parallel proc- 
essing work? 

Hillis: Instead of trying to do one thing 
fast, a parallel processor does a lot of 
things at once. When a conventional, or 
sequential, computer looks at a TV im- 
age, for instance, it scans the picture 
one dot at a time. Our eyes and mind 
look at a picture all at once. We do par- 
allel processing on it. We process one 
corner while processing another. Hu- 
mans have to use parallel processing 
because the transistors we're built out 
of — the neurons — are much slower than 
ordinary transistors. We get speed by 
using billions of them at once. In a com- 
puter like the Connection Machine, you 
do the same trick with tens of thou- 
sands of microprocessors. 
Omni: What sort of problems tax con- 
ventional supercomputers? 
Hillis: Problems that require them to proc- 
ess a lot of information. The more we 
humans learn, the faster and smarter 
we are. But the more knowledge you 
give a sequential computer, the slower 
and stupider it gets. It has to look 
through all thai knowledge one piece 
at a time, so adding knowledge just 
gives ii more things to look through. Par- 
allelism gets you out of that Catch-22. 
The bigger the problem, the more proc- 
essors the parallel computer devotes to 
ft. That way it doesn't need twice as 
much time to look at a picture that's 
twice as big or to solve a problem with 
twice the information. 
Omni: Why haven't computers always 
been parallel? 



Hillis: Switching components, such as 
vacuum tubes, were big and expensive. 
You used as few vacuum tubes as pos- 
sible and used them over and over. The 
idea of assigning one vacuum tube to 
every little dot in a picture was ridicu- 
lous when vacuum tubes cost about 
$50 apiece. When transistors replaced 
vacuum tubes, designers' stuck with the 
same basic blueprint— they just kept min- 
iaturizing it. 

Omni: Aren't sequential computers aw- 
fully good at many things? 
Hillis: They're good at things people are 
terrible at, like adding up long columns 
of numbers or figuring out where Plu- 
to's going to be in 40 million years. But 
they're surprisingly bad at things we're 
good at, like recognizing faces. Things 
that a child does easily, we can't get 
our fastest supercomputers to do. May- 
be you could write a program that lets 
a supercomputer recognize a face in 
three hours, but a human does that in 
a fraction of a second. This seems 
kind of funny because a transistor switch- 
es in a billionth of a second, whereas 
a neuron switches only a few hundred 
lo a few thousand times a second. 
Omni: Then why are brains so much fast- 
er than computers? 
Hillis: When I started at MIT's Artificial 
Inte ligence Lab, it was obvious to me 
that we were designing in the wrong 
way. Trying to reduce the number of 
"vacuum tubes" was no longer the 
right thing to do. If you start from 
scratch with the same type of compo- 
nents and rearrange them to compute 
more quickly, you come up with one 





55 has b 



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A FIELD GUIDE 
I TO ALIEN CONTAC1 



Scientists search the heavens for word 
from intelligent ETs 



ial list of targets for tr 
:. Boyce's list will 

" 1 might have 



from Earth during 
I our exploration of the so' 
system. To date, Boyce I 

' s that might 
, ...„ path of our 
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jnr 





wouldn't 
into the r 
it's worth 
we know 
are," Bo} 


each us 
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pursuing 
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until well 
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joldsmith 


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and 
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this mess 
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ay 
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strategy in the event that ET 
tries to "phone." 

Goldsmith, a writer and 
consultant at Interstellar 


Media ir 
was one 


Berkeley, California 
of the first to suggest 



We may receive 
a simple pure tone or 
an Encyclopedia 
Galactica. The pos- 
sibilities are 
literally endless. 

that we start preparing a reply 
to a signal from an 
extraterrestrial civilization— 

before it arrives. Goldsmith 



jHBIB 



meet you. We are qoinq to 




















the long delays in | Washington, DC, 

trip messages 



msultant, Interstellar Media, civilization will be at least beings, including 

I Berkeley, CA enough like us to understand sequences that c , 

a two-dimensional picture. At our muscles and joints wor 

ould be a first, information could be and im 

■j o=, id messages sent as a sequence of simple — Astn . ... . 

!. I think it would be line drawings. The first few Laguna Beach, CA, 

mature." — Philip Morrison, pictures sent would be used and writer John Bi 
/sicist, MIT and SETI to build ur. ' 
re pioneer, Cambridge, MA which to c 

oroject messages i 

ge of that language. lu 

we suggest sending re 

ing system; a I e; 




"Be patient with 
us. We are 
a young sp"™ 
and have 
much to learn." 
•Freeman Dyson 



"We are one "We're here.' 

species of two — Jill Tarter 

sexes and many 
different races." 
—Charles D. Walker 



"Let the broad- 
cast contain 
everything our 
civilization 
might have to 
say." — Donald 



"Our transmission 
would include 
images of human 
anatomy and DNA." 
— Buzz Aldrin 
and John Barnes 



ecode our message and to 
■ ' —"—t we are like, 
might expect the same 



Declaration of Human Right: 
as proclaimed by the U.N. 
General Assembly While we 



Sa 



w\ 



Tfe© Atast 

© ART CUMINGS 

j ^ 



I raeent 
being jvst another 
pr<zbby face / 




Are j^ou 'forgetting -the words ■ 

' I think therefore I am" 

fcy Descartes , 

the philosopher . 







No — but I remember the worcle — 
'J am what I am and that's ail 
what I am ' 
by Popeye / 



-the sailor ■' 



4* 



ALIEN 

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 57 

For van der Elst, the conclusions are 
inescapable. "COTI players reflect 
their own cultures, no matter what they 
think they're doing. But what you can 
do with COTI is create a substitute hu- 
man species, a species that can do all 
the things humans could do if humans 
hadn't been such bastards." 

Several members of the audience 
raised the obvious objection that no hu- 
man could really imagine what it's like 
to be an alien, complaining that COTI's 
aliens were, finally, all too human. Even 
some members of 
the COTI team feel 
that the process is 
a bit silly, that more 
time could have 
been spent on sci- 
ence, less on imag- 
inary culture. 

Such quibbles 
make for good and 
stimulating conver- 
sation but should 
not detract from the 
accomplishments 
of this year's COTI 
teams. Obviously 
there are going to 
be holes in logic, 
questionable areas 
of extrapolation. 
How could there 
not be? "It took 
God seven days," 
says Dirk van der 
Elst. "We did the 
whole damn thing 
in three!" 

CONTACT CEO 
Greg Barr sees a 
bright future for the 
nonprofit organiza- 
tion, hoping it will 
serve as a clearing- 
house for distribut- 
ing and disseminating ideas about in- 
terstellar communication. "Because the 
material bridges technology and social 
sciences," he says, "it's difficult to find 
the whole range of materials, especially 
the cutting-edge topics in school or pub- 
lic libraries." 

In fact, the mingling of disciplines 
and professions is what attracted many 
of the early CONTACT participants in 
the first place. 

Barr attended his first CONTACT in 
1985. "I was excited about seeing how 
the various disciplines worked togeth- 
er," he says. "What particularly inter- 
ested me was seeing how different dis- 
ciplines would incorporate and extend 



these far-reaching ideas about extra- 
terrestrial communication." 

Bar's ambitions include the funding 
of a teachers' guide for staging CON- 
TACT and COTI events in the class- 
room as well as the development of 
world-building software for generating 
COTI worlds. "We want to pass CON- 
TACT'S interdisciplinary approach on to 
schools," Barr says. "There's no reason 
why it can't be extended even down to 
the elementary level." 

No reason indeed. Part of the great 
joy of the CONTACT conference is its 
dance of multiple disciplines, the rein- 
forcement and reinvigoration that feed- 
back across cultural, academic, and so- 



It never says, 
Cheap, cheap!' 




WILD 
TURKEY 

101 proof, real Kentucky. 



world in new ways." 

How valid can role playing finally be? 
In a piece written in the mid 1980s, dur- 
ing the early days of CONTACT, co- 
founder Funaro spelled out their hopes 
for the conference, and in doing so, re- 
sponded to some of its critics: 

". . . Play is not frivolous, but it 
serves a new and critical adaptive func- 
tion in our species . . . Without our 
play impulse, we might never have 
achieved our level of biological suc- 
cess, technological development, sci- 
entific knowledge, and art." 

So CONTACT, finally, is play, and 
admittedly so, but play of a very high 
order, with deliberate purpose if not 
goals. A thought 
experiment. 

The universe 
moves in mysteri- 
ous ways, but it's a 
fundament of CON- 
TACT that myster- 
ies are meant to be 
solved. Approach- 
ing those solu- 
tions — or at least giv- 
ing some shape to 
the mysteries that 
overlay them — is a 
process that's part 
speculation, part de- 
bate, part science, 
part play, a combi- 
nation that proves 
compelling and, for 
some, addictive. 
Try it yourself. 
Have some specu- 
lative fun. Get to- 
gether an interest- 
ing group of peo- 
ple. Build a planet 
or two. Design a 



cial lines provides. "COTI should 
serve as an intersection between the hu- 
manities and the hard sciences," says 
van der Elst. "Even within anthropolo- 
gy, there remains that division between 
physical anthropology, which is certain- 
ly a hard science, and cultural anthro- 
pology, which is a social science. CO- 
TI bridges the gap. It gives us some- 
thing to aim for. Most of all, it employs 
our imaginations." 

World and culture building are so- 
phisticated play, Israel Zuckerman 
points out. "These exercises are inte- 
grative," he says. "They require people 
to. speak different technical languages, 
to reintegrate their knowledge of the 



the mechanisms for 
thought, for commu- 
nication, for explor- 
ation. Carefully and 

logically shepherd 
your creations' growth from ur-creature 
to interstellar communicator. Look at the 
stars. Conceive and encode a mes- 
sage. Send it out into the universe. 
Make contact. DO 

CONTACT a nonprofit organization, pub- 
lishes a lively quarterly newsletter. 
Omni readers can subscribe to the news- 
letter for $12; additional contributions 
are welcomed, and amounts contribut- 
ed above the subscription rate will 
help fund some of the activities de- 
scribed in this article and are tax-de- 
ductible. To subscribe or contribute, 
call (800) 787-2010; Visa and Master- 
Card only, 



TOWARD 
THE INFINITE 




EXPAND YOUR 

LEVEL OF 

CONSCIOUSNESS 



Y y °; 






I you let it rise above its present bonds. 
Inspiration and Intuition are not just 
haphazard events. You are an infinite 
part of the U niversal Cosmic Intelligence. 
You can draw, at will, upon this Intelli- 
gence for seemingly miraculous results. 
This Cosmic Intelligence flows through 
you. It is the very vital force of life. It is 
not supernatural; it is a natural phenome- 
non. Learn to reach for this higher level 
of your consciousness and avail yourself 
of its intuitive enlightenment. 

Free Booklet 

These statements are not idle fantasy. 
They are made by the Rosicrucian 
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CONTINUED FROM PI 



out." Programmers plan to present a 
mix of science fiction, fantasy, and hor- 
ror — films, series, news programs— 
from vintage monsters of the Forties 
and Fifties to a dozen made-for-Sci-Fi 
features— a visual cocktail, intoxicating 
and exhilarating. 

"We want to be known for doing the 
rare and the special — series that have- 
n't been seen very often," Kenin says. 
There will be feature films, like Star 
Wars, to service the more general com- 
munity, but also limited-run series from 
the U.S. and Britain, like Dark Shadows 
and Dr. Who, which will serve the true 
essence of the channel. 

Kenin feels that how they show pro- 
grams is as important as what they 
show. For ratings, Kenin figures, it 
would probably be best to run one se- 
ries on Tuesday nights, another on 
Wednesday, and so on. "But for the pur- 
ist, we're going to run the entire series 
through sequentially," he says. "All the 
episodes from the beginning to the end, 
every night for as many weeks as it 
takes." Allowance also .has to be 
made for series not made to the arbi- 
trary and exacting specifications of 
prime-time America. The BBC, for in- 
stance, had the temerity to produce Dr. 
Who at a length not readily adaptable 
to an hour-long format. Not to be de- 
terred, Sci-Fi will air the series in its en- 
tirety — including the early black-and- 
white episodes — on consecutive 
nights, and fill out the hour with creat- 
ed short programs like interviews with 
Dr. Who writers, directors, and perform- 
ers, and short SF serials from the 1940s 
and 1950s. Even the news will be a lit- 
tle out of the orthodox with NASA launch- 
es covered by commentary from top sci- 
ence-fiction authors. 

Some form of interactivity will be on- 
line from the start. "Even if it's telephone 
lines or mail or something," says Ken- 
in. In fact, interactivity is a leitmotif of 
Sci-Fi even before it goes on the air. 
Members of the hundred Sci-Fi fan 
clubs have been flooding network of- 
fices with suggestions, nay demands, 
of what should be done with "their" chan- 
nel. "The real diehard science-fiction 
fans believe that this is their channel," 
Besch says, "We're just executing 
their vision. I get calls from people 
who've spent two days trying to find me. 
They don't say, 'Well, I've been think- 
ing about it and maybe you might . . .' 
They say, 'If you're going to fulfill the 
dream, this is what you should have.'" 

If fans had their way, says Sci-Fi pro- 
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Kamp, ihere wouldn't be any editing of 
movies or movie series, and there 
wouldn't be any commercial breaks dur- 
ing the movies. "They want us to be edit- 
sensitive, and for them that means not 
editing out the credits or editing the be- 
ginning or any of the footage to allow 
for commercials." For instance, fans 
want to see the complete version of 
Dune— six and a half hours long. Many 
people have requested European or in- 
ternational science-fiction programs 
such as Red Dwarf. According to van 
de Kamp, the diehards have specifi- 
cally requested Japanese animation — 
"it's very exciting, very sophisticated"— 
series like Dark Shadows, Dr. Who, 
Lost in Space, and classic series like 
The Time Tunnel and Quark — "the list 
is endless," van de Kamp says. "We've 
also had many requests for late-night 
home shopping for collectors looking 
for Star Trek memorabilia." 

Fan input has been crucial from the 
outset. Rubenstein and Silvers, not afi- 
cionados themselves, decided it 
would be best to follow the advice of 
those who were. "The very first program- 
ming buy that the channel made was 
the original Dark Shadows," Silvers 
says. "We had no idea how strong a de- 
sire there was for it, but the letters and 
calls kept coming in saying that this was 
something that was at the top of their 
list, so we went out and got it. The fans 
were letting us know what they wanted 
to see." The peripatetic Sci-Fi fan 
clubs are being shepherded into one 
flock, which will be known as the Sci-Fi 
Channel Fan Alliance — a name fraught 
with Star Trek overtones. There will be 
a magazine, conventions, discounts at 
other events, a book club, ad infinitum. 

Most exciting are plans for the future. 
"We'll have a laboratory where you can 
add almost any ingredient you want 
and see what happens," says Silvers. 
Rubenstein interjects: "So we become 
the home for really hot new sci-fi ide- 
as, like MTV did with new music and 
bands. This will be the MTV for the Nine- 
ties." As a platform for new technology, 
the possibilities seem endless, with the 
new-age look to the format being car- 
ried through to in-house program links 
and advertising in what Besch hopes 
will be "a seamless environment." He 
says, "We want our advertisers to cre- 
ate ads that match the channel— to the 
point of going into a commercial so 
that it seems like we've stopped trans- 
mission for a moment and are receiv- 
ing a message from somewhere else." 
The formidable battery of new technol- 



ogies to be explored by the channel in- 
cludes virtual reality, lasers, computers, 
and HDTV. The format will also be ex- 
tended to include cable in the class- 
room. "We think there are going to be 
opportunities relatively soon to marry up 
TV and the computer," says'Koplovitz. 
"We will be working with computer com- 
panies to provide the home user with a 
way to hook up with demonstrations 
and experiments." 

The most leililo area of advancement 
will be in Interactive TV. Programmers 
are planning to send messages out 
over the vertical blanking interval at the 
bottom of the screen and have it re- 
ceived 'through computer lines. Sci-Fi 
viewers can play along with game 
shows and answer trivia questions. 
They will be able to vote on what they 
like and dislike and would like to see 
more of on the channel. There's even 
talk of producing films with several dif- 
ferent endings and allowing the viewer 
to choose which one he or she prefers. 
"We will have a billboard for a variety 
of interactive users," Kenin says. "Ear- 
ly on in the game, the Sci-Fi news pro- 
gram, which is conceived as an ongo- 
ing video database for the twenty-first 
century, will interface with consumers 
at home and at work." The- consumer 
will be able to choose items from a 
menu and get new information as it's 
happening — news, medical develop- 
ments, science, technology, as well as 
fashion. The Sci-Fi news brief will offer 
much more than newspapers offer to- 
day. The consumer will be able to ac- 
cess the database for additional infor- 
mation about the stories contained in 
the headlines. "I don't know when, pre- 
cisely, this will happen, but that's the ex- 
citement of this channel: figuring out 
how we can do these things," Kenin 
says, "even if it's a small audience, 
even if it's experimental. The essential 
DNA element of the channel is a sense 
of adventure, to feel that every time you 
tune in, you're going to be experienc- 
ing the same type of excitement. It will 
be interactive, it will be technologically 
adventurous, it will be the next dimen- 
sion in entertainment." DQ 

GAMES ANSWERS: 
A. KING'S CAT: J , \ 



. l_AVERY'S "E": 
The pieces form 

an E in shadows. 



irUTERVIEUU 



with tens of thousands of tiny proces- 
sors—what we call a massively paral- 
lel computer. Right now there are only 
tens of thousands of processors be- 
cause we're at a primitive stage. 

The disadvantage of rearranging eve- 
rything is that you can no longer run all 
the old programs on these new ma- 
chines. That's why conventional com- 
puter manufacturers have tried to avoid 
this approach. But if you're making a 
thinking machine, you have to do 
some things completely differently. 
Omni: What's the hardest part of mak- 
ing a massively parallel computer? 
Hillis: The hardware hurdle has been 
building a kind of telephone network 
that lets the tens of thousands of proc- 
essors all talk to each other. Any proc- 
essor must be able to call up any other 
one and each be able to place tens of 
thousands of calls a second. The switch- 
ing capacity squeezed inside one of the 
Connection Machine's four-foot cubes 
is greater than a telephone company's 
switching capacity. There was also a soft- 
ware hurdle: getting all of these things 
to work together on a single problem. 
If programming one processor is hard, 
then breaking a job in half and running 
it on two processors is harder. Four, 
even harder, so 100 is harder than 
that. A lot of people assumed that pro- 
gramming a computer with 64,000 proc- 
essors would be exponentially harder. 

What actually happens is when you 
have so many processors that there's 
one for every piece of data, things sud- 
denly become simple again. In fact, the 
Connection Machine uses the concept 
of virtual processors, so programmers 
can pretend there are millions of proc- 
essors if they need them. Having one 
processor for each piece ol data — for 
each of the million dots on a TV 
screen, for example — turns out to be a 
very natural way of coordinating 
things. The original assumption that if 
100 was hard then 64,000 was impos- 
sible is a little like learning to ride a tri- 
cycle by starting on a unicycle. Program- 
ming with that many processors has 
been relatively easy, It's one of the sur- 
prises of parallelism. 
Omni: Why did you settle on 64,000? 
Hillis: I wanted a million but couldn't af- 
ford it. We have customers running prob- 
lems on which they could sensibly use 
10 million processors. Is there any fun- 
damental limit? I doubt it. I suspect as 
soon as these people had 10 million 
processors they'd want 100 million. En- 
gineering bigger Connection Machines 
is the easy part, actually. The limits are 




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much more in how we take advantage 
of this increase in power to do things 
in a completely different way. When tel- 
evision first came out, networks tele- 
vised radio shows with singers stand- 
ing in front of microphones. Over time, 
people began to realize they could do 
things with TV they couldn't with radio; 
there was a whole new dimension to ex- 
ploit. Today many people just use par- 
allel computers to do faster versions of 
what they did with sequential comput- 
ers. This will change. 

It takes people a while to adapt to 
new possibilities. Imagine if airplanes 
suddenly became 100 times faster. In- 
stead of flying at 600, they could fly at 
60,000 miles an hour. That won't 
change my life fundamentally if I still 
need an hour to go to and from the air- 
port and if I have to wait another hour 
on the runway at each end, and so on. 
It probably won't matter if the whole 
flight takes a millisecond as long as I 
still organize everything the same way. 
That's not an issue for airplanes, be- 
cause they don't get 100 times faster 
overnight. But computers do. 
Omni: What does your latest machine, 
the CM-5, do that others don't? 
Hillis: It removes the upper bound on 
how we can build a computer. The new 
machine can have anywhere from 32 to 
64,000 processors — that's the same as 
our earlier versions, but now each proc- 
essor is a lot bigger, like a powerful com- 
puter workstation. You only need 
16,384 processors to get up to a ter- 
aflop — 10 to the !-.voli:h : loviting-point op- 
erations per second, a million million, or 
a mega-megaflop. I don't think there are 
any other machines that seriously 
scale up to teraflop performance. And 
the 64,000 machine would get up to sev- 
eral teraflops. 

Omni: What do you charge for one? 
Hillis: [deadpan] Several hundred mil- 
lion dollars. So far, the biggest ones 
we've sold are $30 million machines. 
Omni: For years, you and your rivals 
have made leapfrogging claims of, "Our 
computer is fastest." Does it really mat- 
ter who's fastest? 

Hillis: It matters if you and I are bidding 
for drilling rights in the same area, and 
my computer being fastest means I see 
where the oil is and you don't. Oil com- 
panies look for oil by setting off little ex- 
plosions and listening for the echoes to 
come back. Figuring out from those ech- 
oes what's underground is a computa- 
tion so big, they take lots of shortcuts 
and miss oil deposits as a result. Prob- 
ably sitting in Exxon's archives is infor- 
mation telling where a lot of undiscov- 
ered oil is, but it hasn't done enough 
computing yet to find it. Exxon doesn't 
own a Connection Machine, by the way, 




IA< TO tU, 3M MSI WBIWYffl AVE, SIE M0, 
M. Hi MMRS FtlHUHl VffllH 48 HURL 




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but Mobil does. 

Speed is also a serious matter for a 
bond trader. People are running exper- 
imental bond-trading programs on Con- 
nection Machines. The calculations for 
predicting the effect of a drop in inter- 
est rates are very complicated. But to 
make money on the bond market, you 
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others are doing it. If you solve a prob- 
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ing it at all. 

Omni: Has the unquenchable thirst for 
more computer power been a surprise? 
Hillis: Sure, People used to say to me, 
"What can you do with all these proc- 
essors?" Now they wish they had 
more. John von Neumann, who built the 
first electronic machines in the Forties, 
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thought half a dozen computers would 
serve the needs of the entire country. 
People have always had limited imagi- 
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ligence we have. I went to my first com- 
puter conference at the New York Hil- 
ton about 20 years ago. When some- 
body there predicted the market for mi- 
croprocessors would eventually be in 
the millions, someone else said, 
"Where are they all going to go? It's not 
like you need a computer in every door- 
knob." Years later, I went back to the 
same hotel. I noticed the room keys had 
been replaced by electronic cards you 
slide into slots in the doors. There was 
a computer in every doorknob! 
Omni: Will there ever be a desktop Con- 
nection Machine? 

Hillis: Even when you can buy a desk- 
top version of our machine for $1,000, 
you'll probably prefer one 100 times as 
powerful but which you'll only use oc- 
casionally I think parallel computers 
will evolve over the long run into a pub- 
lic utility. Like electricity, your demand 
for computation fluctuates wildly A net- 
work will tie your desktop computer in- 
to a shared Connection Machine some- 
where. If you ask your computer a 
hard question, it will tap into this big- 
ger machine to get the answer quickly. 
Omni: Homes in a town might tie into a 
public supercomputer, cable-TV style? 
Hillis; There might literally be municipal 
Connection Machines, sure. Or the com- 
puter power might be distributed— a lit- 
tle bit's in your appliances, a little more 
in your basement, the rest down at City 
Hail. You'll have a home robot— a glo- 
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era and a few microprocessors on 
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that, it will draw on the power of the big- 
ger computer. At the end of the month, 
you'll get a bill for seven cents, the 
cost of that little computation. 
Omni: Could a parallel computer be pro- 
grammed to educate itself? 
Hillis: I've been directing the process of 
evolution inside the Connection Ma- 
chine. Imagine I want a computer to 
teach itself to play chess. I tell it to pro- 
duce tens of thousands of little comput- 
er programs that move pieces at ran- 
dom around a chess board. I just put 
monkeys in front of keyboards. Then I 
pair the programs off and have them 
play chess with one another. Most of 
them are disqualified immediately be- 
cause they don't know any rules. But I 
have the computer single out whichev- 
er programs, just by luck, happen to 
make a legal first move. I allow these 
programs to mate and produce children 
by having the Connection Machine com- 
bine different parts of the parents at ran- 
dom. Whatever subroutines result in le- 
gal moves are passed on like genes to 
the next generation. The computer 
keeps repeating the process: It pairs all 
the programs, sees which survive, and 
creates another generation from there. 
After enough generations, I have a 
bunch of programs that play legal 
chess but aren't very good at checkmat- 
ing. So whenever a program captures 
an opponent's piece, I tell the comput- 
er to give it an evolutionary advantage. 
Pretty soon a program evolves that 
searches for legal moves that capture 
other pieces. After a while, all the pro- 
grams have that subroutine because it's 
such a useful one. Then one of the pro- 
grams gains an advantage by deciding, 
"Gee, if I control with my pawns from 
the outset, I'm more likely to capture 
pieces -later." Another evolves that has 
a subroutine that guesses its oppo- 
nent's most likely next move. And so on. 
Initially, these traits would be created 
at random, but by natural selection, the 
useful ones would be bred into the com- 
puter's offspring. For this to work, I'd 
probably have to start with more than 
64,000 programs and go through mil- 
lions of generations. But if we under- 
stand the process of evolution, it 
should eventually work. 
Omni: Have you tried this yet? 
Hillis: Not with chess, but I have with sim- 
pler programs that put words in alpha- 
betical order. I started by telling the Con- 
nection Machine to write thousands of 
little programs with random rules for or- 
dering words in a list. The machine end- 
ed up creating alphabetizing programs 
that were faster than any program you 
or I could have written by hand. I told 
the machine only the problem, nothing 
about how to structure the solution. 



With the best alphabetizing programs 
I've created this way, I understand that 
they work, I can test them, but I don't 
really understand how they work. With 
this kind of computer evolution by com- 
puter, you're left at the end with some- 
thing that's almost an alien being. It's 
one more intelligent object whose work- 
ings you don't understand. 
Omni: How might this be useful? 
Hillis: Wouldn't it be great if, rather 
than trying to build up big, complicated 
structures from simple Tinkertoys, we 
could just make a kind of witch's 
broth? You'd stir together the right in- 
gredients, cook it at the right tempera- 
ture, and it would start to think and talk 
to us. That's appealing technically be- 
cause it would let us build intelligent ma- 
chines without understanding intelli- 
gence. It's appealing philosophically be- 
cause we like to think that intelligence 
is magic. We're offended that anything 



iLike electricity, 

your demand for computation 

fluctuates wildly. 

A network will tie your 

desktop computer 

into a shared Connection 

Machine somewhere, 
say, down at City Hall. 9 



as intelligent, valuable, and worthwhile 
as we are could simply be constructed 
piece by piece using logical principles. 
Omni: Could human emotion and per- 
sonality ever evolve in a computer? 
Hillis: I don't see we're particularly tied 
to the technology we're implemented in. 
I could build a Connection Machine out 
of Tinkertoys or proteins. If your arm 
had to be replaced by a robot arm, you 
wouldn't think of yourself as any less hu- 
man, less able to love, hope, and fear. 
Let's say one of your neurons burned 
out and I replaced it with a little tran- 
sistorized neuron. If it took the same in- 
puts and produced the same outputs, 
then presumably you would not believe 
your soul was in any way diminished. If 
every time one of your neurons broke 
down I replaced it, in 100 years your 
brain might be all transistors. I believe 
you'd still have as much soul as you ever 
did. Computation transcends the me- 
chanics of what you use to compute. 
Omni: What kind of world would artifi- 
cial neurons make possible? 
Hillis: Don't you want to live for 10,000 



years? I once wrote down all the things 
I wanted to do and how long it would 
take to do them. It only came to a little 
over a thousand years' worth. But my 
suspicion is that by the time I did all 
those things, I'd have thought of anoth- 
er few thousand years of stuff to do. It's 
a shame that just as you're beginning 
to understand what's going on, you 
lose your capacity to do anything 
about it. I have no doubt I could keep 
usefully occupied for 10,000 years. 
Omni: You'd replace your failing body 
parts cell by cell? 

Hillis: I'd love to do that, but probably 
won't be able to. Maybe my children 
will. I'd like to find a way for conscious- 
ness to transcend human flesh. Build- 
ing a thinking machine is really a 
search for a kind of Earthly immortality. 
It's also a search for something beyond 
me. Historically, we're just getting the 
first glimmers of intelligence. We have 
an awfully parochial view of reality. 

Imagine a bug wandering around 
this table and crawling over this copy 
of Nature magazine. It doesn't know 
what the picture on the cover is about. 
It just notices that things go from blue 
to black to green. It doesn't have the 
context to interpret what it's looking at. 
Well, you and I are wandering around 
on a bigger table and haven't the con- 
text to interpret the meanings of what 
we're seeing. I'm constantly befuddled 
by the world, surprised by the future, 
confused by the past. My suspicion is 
that it's not because of an inherent ina- 
bility of intelligence to understand the 
world, but because of the inability of.my 
intelligence. Something much more in- 
telligent than we are can exist. Making 
a thinking machine is my way to reach 
out at that. 

Omni: Isn't it dangerous to set in mo- 
tion a self-improving intelligence 
whose workings we can't understand? 
Hillis: We have children and don't 
know what they're going to grow up and 
do. Yet we take that risk because we 
have faith we can influence them. 
Omni: Human children aren't self-teach- 
ing machines without upper limits. 
They're genetic blends of their parents. 
Hillis: Right, yet serial murderers are al- 
so genetic blends of two people who 
weren't, in general, serial murderers. 
There is a danger in building something 
that learns and acts of its own, but if 
we make a machine with care, include 
good qualities in it, it has the same po- 
tential as a child we raise with care. 
Omni: Why do Connection Machines 
have all those blinking red lights? 
Hillis: They have some diagnostic use, 
but basically, who wants to spend his 
life working on something that looks 
like a refrigerator? DO 



BAnnes 



WHAT'S IN A NUMBER? 

Fourteen divulges its secrets, just in time for our anniversary 

By Scot Morris 



It's the number of pounds in 
a stone and the number of 
days in a fortnight and in the 
original "halcyon days." It's 
the number of members of 
the president's cabinet and 
the .number of points in 
Wood.row Wilson's famous 
plan for ending World War I. 

It's 14, the number of this 
Omni anniversary. Fourteen 
is a very special number. 
We humans have 14'true 
ribs, theEnglish language 
has 14 punctuation marks, 
and 14 different calendars 
would cover every possible 
arrangement of days within 
a year. 

Monte Zerger of Alamosa, 
■ Colorado, last year suggest- 
ed rearranging the stylized 
letters in the onnrui logo to 
form NO 13. This year, as 
Omni completes its four- 
teenth year and begins its 
fifteenth,, the new arrange- 
ment .should perhaps be. lM 
NO to suggest "I'm 14 and 
going-on 15." N and are 
the fourteenth and fifteenth 
letters of the alphabet. 

The product of 14 and 15 
equals the product of the 
first'four prime numbers (14 
x 15 = 2x3x5x7), If we 
extend the sequence by 
multiplying by the next 
prime (11), we get 2310 or 
OfUimi itself! Just rearrange 
the letters in our logo to 
produce 2310. 

What's the significance of 
these 14s? Answers appear 
at the bottom of the page. 

1 . "How do I love thee?" 

2. Hearts and flags 

3. Sand and chips 

4. Pro golf and football 

5. Date and base 

But enough about us. 
'. Many of our most interesting 
puzzles come from readers, 
12S.: ■ OMNI ■ 



The. 
to both of 
these puzzles | 
appear on 
page 116. 



|\ 



/ 



r v 



w 



>*S 



and the two tabletop ones 
above are no exception. The 
"cat" (A) comes from Lloyd 
King of Oxfordshire, Eng- 
land. He says it was inspired 
by "Horse Around" in the 
May issue, which required 
readers to redirect a 
toothpick horse. In this 
case, the challenge is to 
rearrange- five toothpicks to- 
leave another cat going in 
the opposite direction. 

Angus Lavery of London 
offers the three zigzag 
shapes above (B). Cut them 
out carefully, and usingall ■ 
three pieces, form a capita! 
letter E. None of the pieces 
should overlap. 

Also this. month, Klutz 
Press publishes KidShe- 

)reat Things to 
Do that Mom and Dad. Wiil 
Just Barely Approve Of, a ' 
collection of stunts, tricks, 
and practical jokes. Here 
are two of the best. 

THE EGG. Tell a parent or 



older sibling that you have a 
magic trick that requires 
tneir expert help. Open a 
door halfway and stand your 
victim behind it. Get him or 
her to poke a thumb and 
forefinger through the crack 
just above the middle hinge. 
Then hand them the raw 
egg. And leava 

SODA BOMB. Some- 
where where there are lots 
of people around, take a 
can of soda and shake it 
violently. Hold it by your ear 
and thump it soundly three 
or four times with your 
finger. Say, "It sounds ripe 
to me," and immediately pull 
the top. Naturally, everyone 
will squeal and duck, 
expecting a soda spritz. 

The surprise is that what 
everyone expects doesn't 
happen. The secret lies in 
thumping the can. "Better 
do a good job of it," warns 
John Cassidy, president of . 
Klutz Press, "since all the 



bubbles that are anxious to 
come geysering out are 
hanging on to the sides of 
the can like bats to the 
ceiling of a cave." The finger 
thumps knock the bubbles 
off- the sides and back into 
the soda. 

KidShenanigans comes 
complete with a.make-it- 
yourself whoopie cushion 
for $13.95. 

'HOURGLASS UPDATE. 
For those of you pondering 
last month's Floating Hour- 
glass, here's a new wrinkle: 
Another version of the 
puzzle, called the antiglass, 
exists. In it, the hourglass 
rests at the bottom of a clear 
tube. Turn it over, and the 
hourglass stays at the top of 
the tube for a while and then- 
slowly sinks when most of 
the sand is in the bottom 
half. I'll give a full report on 
the possible explanations 
for both hourglass puzzles 
in January. 



ANSWERS 

1. There are 14 lines in a 
sonnet. 

2. Valentine's Day is 

February 14 and Flag Day is 
June 14. 

3. Sand and computer chips 
are made from silicon, the 
fourteenth element. 

4. A pro golfer may Carry no 
more than 14 clubs in. 
tournament play. There are 
14 teams in each of the 
National Football League's 
two conferences. 

5. The workhorse of 
radioactive dating is the 
carbon-14 isotope. The pH 
scale ranges from (acid), to 
14 (base). 

Thanks to Monte Zerger 
and Dan Shine for their 
numerological help.DQ 



"We choose to go to the moon..." 

-John K Kennedy 




BUZZ ALDRIN'S Three . two 

one... LIFT-OFF] 
The roar of the gf. 

. Saturn V engines 
becomes deaienmp 
the gieaminM t.icke 
ali-sovet spue us sMunoii clears th< 
tower. Within minutes it has enough veku 
to reach orhil . America's -pace program is 
heading to the moon! But for two years thi 
Russians have been working on a larger, 
powerful rocket. Could they be secretly 
planning a mission dus year to land 
moon? Will they get there first? 

Buzz Aldrin's Race Into Space™, i; 
computer simulation of man's greatest 
adventure, the race to the moon. " 
all the excitement of every space mis 
■digitized footage from lift-offs, space 
lunar landings and splashdowns. 

As Space Director, you have at your 
disposal i:he entire -pace inventories of both 
the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R., and can plan and 
direct every conceivable space mission: 
suborbitals; orbital manned and unmanned; 
duration records; lunar llybys; [em tests; luna 
passes; lunar orbits; lunar landings; and even 
emergency space rescues! 

tint get to recruit and train over 140 




rr-m^smm. 



and 



nddet 



which ones have the "right stuff". You deter- 
mine which space hardware tu research and 
develop and then you actually schedule and 
launch individual space missions. 



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©■::.-;. 


f:j 










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1 ■ 


i --H «j 



Buzz AMrir.'', Race Imo Space™ offers 
twenty different approaches to the moon. Do 
you follow history or do you cut your own path 
to glory? Will the United States land on the 
moon first? Or will the Russians continue to 
dominate space and plant the red flag on lunar 
soil first? 

Do You Have The Right Stuff? 

Buzz AUriv.'s Race hvro .Space™ includes: 

■ Ability to sclec: from over thirty types of 
space hardware 

■ Hundreds aj historical photos and digitized 
animations 

■ Twenty varied approaches :o land on the moon 

■ Play the US. or Soviets 

■ Recruit, train, and us jig?; over 1 40 astronauts 
Rescue suicJee as;rr.,iwa<;.-. 

■ Three levels of difficulty 

■ Complete aitr(j?iaut history 

■ Full musical sane and sound effects 

To Order Buzz Aldrin's Race Into Space™, 
call 1 -800-969-0 AME, or see your local 
retailer. Coming soon on MS-DOS. 




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